The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB).
Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.
Litigation and Restoration
In 1983, the State of Montana filed a natural resource damage lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) to recover damages for:
- injuries to the water, soils, fish and wildlife in the basin
- the public’s lost use and enjoyment of these injured resources
Since 1990, the Natural Resource Damage Program within the Montana Department of Justice has been responsible for performing the necessary natural resource damage assessments and pursuing the lawsuit against ARCO. The state has settled its lawsuit through a series of settlement agreements completed in 1999, 2005 and 2008. In addition to the lawsuit against ARCO, in 2008 the state completed settlements for the Mike Horse Dam site and in 2009, for the East Helena site.
The 1999 partial settlement earmarked about $130 million to restore or replace the injured natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin. Between 2000 and 2011, the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program administered a annual restoration grants process funded by interest proceeds from the 1999 partial settlement. Through that process, The Governor approved 121 grant projects totaling $112 million. These approved grant projects will improve water, fish and wildlife resources, public drinking water supplies, and natural resource-based recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife watching.
In December 2011, Governor Schweitzer approved a new process for expenditure of the 1999 settlement funds that will involve the completion of groundwater, aquatic, and terrestrial restoration plans by the end of 2012.
Silver Bow Creek Injured Area
Silver Bow Creek Restored Area
Upper Clark Fork Watershed Education Portal – The Clark Fork Education Portal is a component of the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program funded by the NRDP. It is an online resource for educators and students focusing on the science and history of the Upper Clark Fork River Basin.
Upper Clark Fork River Basin Educational Multimedia Project
The Upper Clark Fork River Basin Remediation and Restoration Advisory Council completed an educational multimedia project. The CD, Restoring Silver Bow Creek, contains movies, video, and recent and historic photos of the basin. It was designed for primary through middle school audiences throughout the basin to increase awareness of historic and current activities affecting the natural resources of the area. The CD provides specific information on various locations in the basin including Butte, the Berkley Pit, Anaconda, Warm Springs and Milltown.
Montana Department of Justice
1301 East Lockey
P.O. Box 201425
Helena, MT 59620-1425
Phone: (406) 444-0205
Fax: (406) 444-0236
65 East Broadway
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 533-6882
Fax: (406) 533-6830
Phone: (406) 533-6882