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BRITISH COLUMBIA: British Columbia Lt. Gov. Steven Point declared the Canadian portion of the Flathead River Valley off limits to mining and energy extraction in a speech to his parliament on Tuesday. The agreement includes commitments by both state governments to get U.S. and Canadian federal support for development bans along the river basin. ... read more
PHILLIPSBURG: An Atlanta, Georgia company thinks it can dig an estimated 3-billion dollars worth of gold out of the hills near Philipsburg. The company plans to use the Basin Gulch, which is 16-miles west of Philipsburg to explore and potentially work toward a property for long term mining. The company claims, if the state approves its exploration, the project could bring jobs, gold and in turn hard cash. But mining produces waste. And that's one thing the Clark Fork Coalition plans to keep a close eye on ... read more
HELENA - The Montana Supreme Court said a hearings examiner and a District Court judge were wrong in denying environmental groups the right to amend a complaint they filed over an air quality permit issued for a small power plant. Three groups — Citizens Awareness Network, Women’s Voices for the Environment (WVE), and the Clark Fork Coalition — appealed a permit the Department of Environmental Quality approved for Thompson River Power near Thompson Falls. ... read more
BONNER - If the Clark Fork River looked a little confused this past year, understand: It's been getting a lot of different instructions on how to get past Bonner.
After getting shunted into a new bypass channel in 2008, the Clark Fork spent 2009 pining for the path it followed more than a century ago, before the Milltown Dam blocked its confluence with the Blackfoot River. Envirocon excavators finished removing more than 2.2 million cubic yards of sediment from the former reservoir this past year, digging down to the original soil horizon of stumps and pine needles from the early 1900s. ... read more
(AP) - BILLINGS - Ranchers in Montana have asked a state agency to stop giving away water use rights for tens of thousands of new homes being built in areas once dominated by agriculture.
Across the arid West, residential subdivisions and agricultural interests are vying for control of water supplies that have emerged as one of the region's most coveted natural resources.
In the latest skirmish between the two groups, five Montana ranch owners filed a petition Tuesday with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, charging the state's water rules were stacked against them. ... read more
(Missoulian) - MILLTOWN - In a cleanup milestone for the Milltown Superfund site, the final trainload of arsenic-laced dirt left here on Thursday for Opportunity.
The rail cars have pulled away some three million tons of toxic sediment since October 2007, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That represents just one-third of the contaminated sludge in the former reservoir - but 85 percent of the pollution washed there from old copper mines and smelters upriver. ... read more
Northwest wildlife and power officials are increasingly concerned about the impact a tiny traveling mussel could have on the region's multi-billion dollar effort to save Columbia and Snake river salmon. So far they aren't in the Northwest, but when they do arrive - and officials expect them to within the next five years - they will cling to fish screens, turbine bays and other parts of the big dams on the Columbia and Snake river. That will likely mean the region will have to spend more money to keep those facilities clean to simultaneously protect endangered salmon and provide the cheap hydroelectric power the region is used to. ... read more
In July, Missoulian reporter Rob Chaney and photographer Tom Bauer explored the Superfund cleanup zone to see firsthand the challenges and opportunities that await the Upper Clark Fork. The removal of Milltown Dam and its toxic reservoir was a massive undertaking. But it was only one tip of a 120-mile river corridor in need of repair. The Upper Clark Fork River Basin is the largest geographic Superfund site in the United States. Roughly $412 million will be spent to remediate, restore and replace lands from Butte to Missoula damaged by the mining waste. ... read more
July 4, 2009: Governor Floats Free-Flowing Clark Fork (Missoulian)
It was a fish story for the ages: On Friday afternoon, the first person in more than 120 years to legally float past the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers and through the channel previously occupied by the Milltown Dam caught an 18-inch cutthroat trout right where the two rivers merge ... read more
The headwaters of the Blackfoot River are one step closer to again being home to a cutthroat trout population lost to the legacy of mining in the area. Earlier this month, a federal bankruptcy court judge in Texas approved pumping $138 million into a trust for environmental cleanup in Montana, including $10 million for Mike Horse mine ... read more.
When a waterway becomes synonymous with “Superfund” the way the Clark Fork River has, it needs a reputation rescue. Daniel Kiely hopes to start such a renovation with an ambitious float from Racetrack, just below the Opportunity Ponds toxic waste settling zone ... read more
The Milltown Dam's removal may have been the most visible event of the past decade of restoration work in the drainage, but as the coalition's executive director, Karen Knudsen, notes, it was only one step in a "globally significant watershed-wide recovery." ... read more.
The Clark Fork River is ready to throw its weight around. A century behind a wall made Missoula's main waterway a fairly predictable neighbor. It rose and fell like the Bitterroot and Blackfoot rivers, but Milltown Dam leashed much of the Clark Fork's ability to reshape its banks. So features stayed the same for miles above and below that barrier. Watch the Video or read more.
A power plant with a lousy history is gearing up for a fresh start under new ownership in this community. At least one wary neighbor and a conservation group in Missoula are considering whether to fight the decision by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to grant yet another air quality permit to the facility. Even as the Clark Fork Coalition awaits a Montana Supreme Court decision on an appeal filed over an earlier permit granted to Thompson River Power, it's considering a possible new challenge to the sixth and latest permit. ... read more
Plum Creek Timber Co. has abandoned its controversial forest road negotiations with Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, citing strong public opposition. “We've been thinking about it for a while,” company spokeswoman Kathy Budinick confirmed Monday. “The controversy just seemed to be continuing, and we want to be responsive to those concerns.” Missoula County officials and others argued that an amendment would have eased the way for residential development on Plum Creek lands. The concerns centered on access easements, which allow the Forest Service and Plum Creek to share roads across intermingled lands. ... read more