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Prioritizing Aquatic and Terrestrial Resources

In 2008, the State of Montana concluded its 25-year natural resource damage litigation against ARCO for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). These injuries were caused by the release of hazardous substances from historic mining and mineral processing operations in the Basin.

The litigation resulted in three settlements covered by court-approved consent decrees that provided a total of about $231 million in natural resource damages to restore the Basin’s natural resources.

  • About half of these damages are earmarked for restoration of specific injured areas.
  • The other half can be used to restore or replace injured natural resources and lost services throughout the Basin.

For more background on these settlements, see Lawsuit History and Settlements.

In conjunction with the completion of litigation, the State conducted assessments of the fishery and wildlife habitat and populations in the UCFRB that can be used to prioritize restoration of these resources. The following assessment documents and study plans are associated with this prioritization effort:

The State used the results of these assessments to produce draft aquatic and terrestrial resource prioritization plans in 2010 that were subject of public comment and finalized in December 2011.  The priority areas identified in these two prioritization plans will be the focus of future restoration efforts, pursuant to a fund allocation guidance plan approved by the Governor in December 2011 and an interim restoration process plan drafted in February 2012.  Following are links to these four documents.