|Upper Clark Fork Superfund Cleanup|
The Clark Fork: A hard-working river on the rebound
After two decades of science-based advocacy on the part of the Clark Fork Coalition and other groups, the upper Clark Fork will undergo tremendous change in coming years. The Superfund cleanup, which started in 2010, will remove toxic metals from streambeds, streambanks, and the floodplain along 43 river miles. The State of Montana will then oversee the subsequent restoration work. In all, over $300 million will be spent repairing the river, particularly in the Deer Lodge valley. At the Coalition, we're offering our partners and neighbors a vibrant model for integrated restoration that provides long-term ecologial, economic, and cultural assets for the watershed.
To make certain that these investments deliver maximum gains for the river and its communities, we're working to ensure that the Superfund cleanup is a top-notch scientific endeavor. We are contributing to the development of site-specific design options and overarching restoration priorities by commenting on and participating in the technical aspects of the cleanup.
In 2005, we purchased a 2,300-acre working cattle ranch in one of the most polluted areas of the Deer Lodge Valley. At our ranch, we're creating a model of integrated restoration, and maintaining a learning site for exploring the challenges and opportunities of the cleanup. In late 2010, contractors with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) began digging test pits on the Coalition's property, taking soil samples from over 500 test pits. This sampling will give us a better grasp of the scope and limit of contamination on the ranch.
In 2011, our stream restoration team wrote and released our Aquatic Restoration Strategy for the Upper Clark Fork Basin, which outlines our goals for an integrated, prioritized tributary restoration in the Upper Clark Fork that will augment the ongoing Superfund cleanup on the mainstem of the river. We've created this streategy with input and help from our partners-- including the Watershed Restoration Coalition, Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee, US Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Our goal is to bring the upper Clark Fork to a true and lasting recovery, with full ecological and economic benefits. Read more about our stream restoration program.Get Involved: For the Superfund cleanup to have long-lasting positive impact, it is imperative that local communities, regional policy and conservation stakeholders, and the state of Montana work together to maximize the recovery of this ecosystem, and restore the natural environment. With over $100 million dollars recovered from a Natural Resource Damage (NRD) lawsuit, the State of Montana’s NRD Program is finally working toward a long-term plan to allocate these dollars. An advisory council of Governor-appointed citizens from the watershed has worked hard to develop a consensus-based Fund Allocation Guidance Plan. Learn more about the NRD program.
The Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee (CFRTAC) is the go-to resource for the Superfund cleanup on the Clark Fork. Visit their website at www.cfrtac.org.
Download the latest Upper River Review, a collaborative public information piece from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Natural Resource Damage Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee.
For the most up-to-date information on the Superfund cleanups in the Upper River, visit the EPA site.