Smelter Hill Uplands Claim and Restoration Plan

From the 1880s to 1980, large volumes of hazardous substances were released into the air by the Anaconda Smelter. These emissions were deposited onto the land, resulting in severe loss of vegetation and injuring nearly 17.8 square miles of land in the mountains surrounding the city of Anaconda. The loss of vegetation resulted in widespread erosion, topsoil loss, degraded wildlife habitat and significantly reduced wildlife in the area. This claim area includes portions of:
  • Smelter Hill (4,653 acres)
  • Stucky Ridge (2,409 acres)
  • Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area  (WMA) (4,304 acres)

The $13.2 million designated for this site under the 2008 settlement will address the most severely injured portions of these areas, including areas subject to the Anaconda Record of Decision.  The integrated remedy and restoration will be completed in 2013 at Stucky Ridge and parts of Mount Haggin, followed with subsequent monitoring.   Additional cleanup will be implemented over the next four years.

Anaconda Groundwater

In December 2011, Governor Schweitzer approved a  Final Upper Clark Fork River Basin Long Range Priorities and Fund Allocation Guidance Plan that allocated about $110 million in natural resource damage settlement funds for the restoration of groundwater, aquatic, and terrestrial resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB).  That approval triggered the development of a Final Upper Clark Fork River Basin Interim Restoration Process Plan that describes the process the State of Montana used to develop restoration plans and fund restoration projects in the UCFRB using these allocated funds.  This Process Plan is also summarized in a Fact Sheet issued May 2012.  Pursuant to this Process Plan, the State finalized the groundwater, aquatic, and terrestrial restoration plans at the end of 2012.

SUMMARY OF 2012 RESTORATION PROCESS

The Governor makes all final decisions on all restoration plans and associated funding.  Prior to a final decision, draft restoration plans are subject of a 30-day public comment period.  In addition to public comment, the Governor considers recommendations from the Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP), the UCFRB Advisory Council, and the Trustee Restoration Council.

 Groundwater Restoration PlansSection 3 of Process Plan:

 An estimated $30.1 million and $10 million is initially available for funding water system improvement projects in Butte-Silver Bow County and Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, respectively.  The Counties developed draft Groundwater Restoration Plans that describe the water system improvement projects they propose to implement with this available funding over a time period not to exceed 20 years.  These restoration plans are based on the priorities identified in the Counties’ drinking water system master plans and the NRD Funding Criteria.   Subsequent restoration plans will cover any additional funding available through interest earnings.

In August 2012, both Counties submitted draft Groundwater Restoration Plans and presented them at the August 15, 2012 Advisory Council meeting.  The plans were subject of public comment through September 21, 2012, considered by the Trustee Restoration Council at their  October 12, 2012 meeting and approved by Governor Schweitzer on October 19, 2012.  Below are the final approved plans.