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Cleaning up Abandoned Mines and Solving Pollution Problems

Mining and resource extraction are not the same threats to the Clark Fork basin today as they were in past decades.  Yet problems stemming from defunct mines and high-impact industry pose an enormous risk to water quality.  We're working to find solutions to lingering water pollution problems throughout the Clark Fork basin.

apr12confluence Milltown Dam Removal and Cleanup: In 2008, Milltown Dam began to be dismantled as community members, stakeholders, and river advocates cheered from the banks.  Over the next few years, the cleanup team removed over 6.6 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment and took out the rest of the dam infrastructure.  Finally, in 2010, the Clark Fork returned to its natural floodplain at the confluence with the Blackfoot River.  The Coalition serves on the government design review team, and is helping to ensure that the restoration produces a natural river environment with ecological and economic benefits.  Read about the project history, or watch video and archive footage of the project on our Milltown Dam Cam page.


Clark Fork Superfund Cleanup: 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.  Read more.
mike-horse Mike Horse Dam and Tailings Removal: At the headwaters of the scenic Blackfoot river, over a half million tons of mine waste have caused considerable damage to one of the region's most celebrated trout streams.  The Coalition worked to generate public support for the removal of the failing dam and tailings-- and, largely due to the public comments of over 8,000 citizens, the Mike Horse dam is coming out.  We're providing technical input on cleanup design and implementation.  Read more.
Beal-Good-lowres Beal Mountain Mine Cleanup: Restoration efforts are underway at the Beal Mountain mine near Anaconda.  Touted as "environmentally-friendly" cyanide heap leaching, this mine has left massive destruction in its wake.  We are monitoring ongoing cleanup efforts as well as using Beal Mountain as a case study in our initiative to reform the 1872 Mining Law.  Read more.