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March 8, 2012

Butte Council Seeks Restoration Ideas for $28.1M Fund

The Butte Natural Resource Damage Restoration Council (BNRC) wants to hear from the public about their ideas to restore natural resources in the Butte area.  The BNRC is holding two meetings to solicit ideas for restoration projects that could qualify for natural resource damage settlement funds designated for the Butte area.

The meetings will be held on Wednesday, March 14 at the Quality Inn (2100 Cornell Ave) and on Tuesday, March 20 at the Butte Silver Bow Public Archives (17 W. Quality St.), starting at 6:00 pm.

BNRC members and staff from the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) will be at the meetings to distribute project idea submittal forms and explain the kinds of projects that are eligible for funding.    Eligible projects include those that would improve groundwater or surface water resources in the Butte area, or related services, such as drinking water and fishing.  The deadline to submit project ideas is April 20, 2012.

Through a 2008 settlement of its natural resource damage lawsuit against ARCO, the State obtained $28.1 million in damages for injuries to surface water and groundwater resources of Butte Area One, which is generally located in the Silver Bow Creek headwaters between Texas Ave. and the I-90 bridge.

“As we develop the plan for this $28.1 million dollar fund, it is critical to get input from other Butte residents about the restoration projects they would like to see completed in Butte,” said Elizabeth Erickson, chair of the BRNC.

Governor Schweitzer created the BNRC to give Butte a direct voice in the restoration of Butte Area One natural resources.   The Governor and Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Paul Babb appointed nine Butte residents to the BNRC in early 2010. Council members are Elizabeth Erickson, Larry Curran, Steve Gallus, Mark Gollinger, Helen Joyce, Ruth Lee, John McKee, Chad Okrusch, and Emmett Riordan.

The BNRC will consider the ideas submitted as it prepares a draft restoration plan for public comment in fall 2012 and for approval by the Governor in December 2012.  The council recently completed a process plan that outlines the steps it would take this year in developing a proposed restoration plan, with assistance from the NRDP.   The process plan now awaits approval by the Governor.   Copies of this plan and the project idea submission form are available from the NRDP’s website /lands/advisory-councils/ or by contacting Pat Cunneen of the Butte NRDP Office at 533-6882 or