While CFWEP was on hand to provide stream bugs and to run a mini-field trip on basic stream assessment, presentations on Silver Bow Creek by Ian Macgruder from Kirk Engineering and Jim Kuipers from Kuipers & Associates were the centerpiece of the Rally. Ian and Jim are the technical advisors to CTEC and CFRTAC, respectively, and they discussed the Superfund process, which is not exactly speedy, and potential recontamination issues to keep in mind as the community looks toward the future of Silver Bow Creek.
Different sites along the Upper Clark Fork River are being remediated and restored on different schedules. In an ideal world, the clean-up would proceed from the headwaters around Butte and Anaconda downstream to Deer Lodge and the Milltown Dam near Missoula. In reality, Superfund is a complex process that involves a lot of negotiating between the Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Montana, local governments, and the Potentially Responsible Parties, or PRPs, a technical term for the private companies liable for environmental damages.
Due to the nature of the Superfund beast, downstream sites like the Milltown Dam and portions of Silver Bow Creek are being restored prior to completion of work on the primary sources of contamination around the Anaconda smelter site and the mine dumps of the Butte hill. While a lot of good work has been done downstream and around the headwaters, because mining and smelting wastes in Butte and Anaconda are being left in place and treated on site, the potential for recontamination of Silver Bow Creek and the Clark Fork from surface runoff, while low, does certainly exist. CTEC and CFRTAC are committed to keep the communities of the basin informed of such issues as the restoration continues to move forward.
Restoration doesn’t occur overnight, and even when completed, monitoring and maintenance are necessary to ensure the long term health of the environment. By coming out to support the success of the amazing Silver Bow Creek restoration up to this point, and by looking to the future, Butte and the surrounding communities are cruising right along on the road to environmental recovery.