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Home Beyond the Breach: A Guide to Water, Fish, and Sediments
Beyond the Breach: A Guide to Water, Fish, and Sediments Print E-mail

At the Clark Fork Coalition, we want to bring you the most up-to-date facts regarding the removal of the Milltown Dam and the state of the Clark Fork River. We've created this online resource, Beyond the Breach: A Guide to Water, Fish, and Sediments, in order to keep interested citizens and river advocates aware of goings-on at the former Milltown Dam site and downstream. In these pages, we provide you with up-to-date news surrounding the project, summarize monitoring data, compare it to conditions before the breach, and link to other studies and sources.

On September 24, 2009, the last trainload of contaminated sediments left the Milltown Reservoir Sediments Superfund site-- over three million tons and nearly two years later.

The term "restoration economy" has emerged in recent years to encompass all the work that's going into repairing environmental damage to the nation's ecosystems, including efforts to cleanup and/or restore Superfund sites, old mines, brownfields, and forests, as well as to repair aging infrastructure.   A new study from the Governor's Office seeking to quantify the restoration economy in Montana finds that every $1 spent on restoration generates an estimated $2.59 in economic activity.  And in the case of the Milltown Superfund cleanup, the effort will generate an estimated $292 million in economic output over the project's lifespan.


Aquatic Life
River and Water Quality
Quality of Groundwater
Groundwater Levels
River Sediment





The public is welcome to view the project from the bluff (see this map).

Directions from Missoula:

Go east on Hwy 200 through East Missoula
Right on Speedway
Left on Deer Creek Road
You'll drive through the Canyon River Golf Course
The road turns to gravel.  Go past the shooting range, continue up the hill.
As you crest the hill, you'll see signs on the left.  You can park along the road-- signs mark the trail entrance, and it's a short walk to the bluff.

Directions from Helena:

Hwy 12 to I-90 West
Exit 109 (Bonner exit)
Take Hwy 200 west
Left on Speedway
Left on Deer Creek Road
(see above)

For additional information, please contact staff scentist Chris Brick: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Upstream in late spring

FAQs: How is the river faring? Is it safe to swim and fish on the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers?

View of work from the bluff

Aquatic Life: Fish and insects -- how are the creatures who depend on the river reacting to the dam's removal?

The sheetpile wall

River and Water Quality: We've heard the terms-- total suspended sediments, dissolved arsenic, etc. What's in the river and what does it mean?

Old stumps of trees in the drained reservoir
Groundwater Quality: What's an arsenic plume? Is groundwater contamination improving at Milltown?
Spring run-off at the new confluence
Groundwater Levels: Learn about changes in the water table in the Bonner/Milltown/West Riverside area.
The spillway is removed in 2008
River Sediment: And what about the total amount of sediment that was delivered downstream?




Milltown News: Montana now owns the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers and the land currently occupied by the Milltown Superfund site. The state’s acquisition of more than 400 acres from the Northwestern Energy Company includes the confluence area and the Clark Fork flood plain above it and also the narrow strip along the Blackfoot River up to the pedestrian bridge in Milltown. Read more about the lands transfer at the CFRTAC website