HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality will host a public meeting at the Milltown State Park near Missoula the evening of Thursday, Aug. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pavilion, 7363 Juniper Drive, Missoula. The meeting will focus on how an upcoming cleanup project on the Clark Fork River will affect recreational river users and fishing guides, including those who travel to the area from Missoula.
The project is slated to begin in October on a 2.6-mile stretch of the river near Deer Lodge, where heavy metals from historic mining, milling and smelting still pose risks to human and aquatic health. Crews will excavate approximately 400,000 cubic yards of material from the riverbank and floodplain. Excavated areas will then be backfilled with clean gravel and soil. The entire project is expected to take two years, although timelines can vary due to weather and other unforeseen factors.
In addition to the removal of contaminants such as arsenic and heavy metals, areas of the cleaned-up banks and floodplain will be lowered, creating a more natural floodplain where water has room to spread and support riverside plants. A wider river bed with shallower banks also will enhance the wetland’s ability to store water and reduce flood damage by slowing the river’s flow.
The project is located on the Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historic Site operated by the National Park Service (NPS). The Historic Site will remain open during the cleanup, and DEQ will work closely with NPS to minimize disruption to park visitors.
Out of concern for public safety, DEQ has asked the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission to close the 2.6-mile stretch of river where crews will be working. The closure would prohibit all public occupation and recreation including, but not limited to, floating, swimming, wading and boating through the Grant-Kohrs Ranch (see attached map and safety information sheet). For more information on the public comment period ending Sept. 11 visit: http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/rules/pn_0262.html
DEQ will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in the public meeting. If you require an accommodation, please contact Joann Wiggins at (406) 444-6795 email@example.com at least three days before the meeting.
For more information or to set up an interview for this story, please contact Jeni Garcin at (406) 444-6469 or: firstname.lastname@example.org