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:
- Final Silver Bow Creek Watershed Restoration Plan (PDF 16MB), December 2005 – This plan identifies and prioritizes restoration needs in the Silver Bow Creek watershed.
- Riparian and stream habitat assessments and fish population surveys of UCFRB conducted by FWP biologists during the 2007 and 2008 field seasons:
- Phase I report: An Assessment of Fish Populations and Riparian Habitat in Tributaries of the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (PDF), by Brad Liermann, Jason Lindstom, and Ryan Kreiner of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, April 2008
- Phase II report: An Assessment of Fish Populations and Riparian Habitat in Tributaries of the Upper Clark Fork River Basin, Phase II (PDF 2MB), by Brad Liermann, Jason Lindstom, and Ryan Kreiner of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, April 2009
- Proposal for study of trout movement to identify key resource areas and factors affecting trout in the UCFRB (PDF), November 2008. This plan describes a four-year study initiated in spring 2009 of trout movement in the mainstem of Silver Bow Creek and Upper Clark Fork River and some of their selected tributaries.
- Qualitative Assessment of Habitat in Eight Tributaries to the Upper Clark Fork River (PDF 15MB), June 2009. This report provides results of a project to assess fish habitat and fish migration barriers on 81 miles of upper Clark Fork River between the mouths of the Big Blackfoot River and the Little Blackfoot River and eight select tributaries conducted by Dennis Workman, retired state fisheries biologist, during the summer and fall of 2008.
- Protocols for UCFRB Terrestrial Resource Assessment and Prioritization Effort (PDF), June 2009. This plan describes the wildlife habitat and population assessments to be conducted by FWP and its contractors in 2009/2010 to assist with prioritization of terrestrial resources in the UCFRB.
- Upper Clark Fork River Basin Terrestrial Resource Assessment Final Report (PDF), April 2010. This report presents results of the assessment project conducted by FWP and its contractors in 2009 to characterize the geographic extent and condition of wildlife species and their habitats in the UCFRB. The final report summarizes and provides links to eight assessment reports that will be used to identify areas to focus wildlife habitat protection and enhancement efforts in the basin.
- Rating Summaries for the Prioritization of Tributaries of the Upper Clark Fork River Basin for Fishery Enhancement (PDF), May 2010. This plan incorporates the 2007 and 2008 Tributary Assessments and other data and determines the scoring of each designated stream reach, which is to be used in the prioritization of the tributaries of the UCFRB.
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.
- Prioritization of Areas in the UCFRB for Fishery Enhancement, Final (PDF 2MB), December 2011. This identifies the most important stream areas in the Basin to focus fishery habitat and enhancement efforts to augment the mainstream remediation and restoration efforts already conducted or planned. A related December 2011 final response to public comments document indicates changes made to the May 2010 draft of this document.
- UCFRB Terrestrial Wildlife Resource Prioritization, Final (PDF 2MB), December 2011. This document identifies priority areas to focus wildlife habitat protection and enhancement efforts in the Basin and describes strategies for and examples of such efforts to benefit wildlife resources. A related December 2011 final response to public comments document indicates changes made to the May 2010 draft of this document.
- Large scale version of terrestrial restoration priority areas map.
- Final Upper Clark Fork River Basin Long Range Priorities and Fund Allocation Guidance Plan December 2011. This Long Range Plan sets forth a basis for allocating what remains in the UCFRB Restoration Fund (approximately $116 million) among three natural resource, namely aquatic, terrestrial and groundwater resources, and provides for a process developing restoration plans for each of these resource groups. This fund was established and funded with the money recovered by the State of Montana in its 1999 partial settlement of the natural resource damage lawsuit, Montana v. Atlantic Richfield Company. A related December 2011 final response to public comments document indicates changes made to the August 2011 draft of the Long Range Plan.
- Final Upper Clark Fork River Basin Interim Restoration Process Plan, May 2012 The Governor’s approval of the Long Range Guidance Plan triggered the development of a draft process plan that outlines: 1) a stream-lined, non-grant process for the approval and implementation of future water system projects in Butte-Silver Bow and Anaconda-Deer Lodge counties; 2) a process for the development of restoration plans for aquatic and terrestrial resources for public comment and consideration/approval of the Governor by the end of 2012; and 3) criteria and a process for the consideration of time critical, early restoration proposals specific to aquatic and terrestrial resource priority areas during the calendar year 2012. A May 2012 Final Response to Public Comments on the Feb 2012 Draft of Process Plan indicates changes made to the February 2012 draft of this process plan. A Fact Sheet summarizes the Final Process Plan and provides guidance for those interested in submitting restoration concept abstracts for aquatic and terrestrial restoration projects. Abstracts were due June 15, 2012. Click here for more information.
- Abstracts of 77 public proposals submitted (or Summary Table of Abstracts). The State will carefully consider incorporating these public proposals, along with State-generated restoration alternatives, in its preparation of the draft aquatic and terrestrial restoration plans that will be issued for public comment late September 2012. The State generated restoration alternatives will be based on review and mapping of the public proposals.
- Final Upper Clark Fork River Basin Aquatic and Terrestrial Resources Restoration Plans, January 3, 2013
- Response to Comment on Draft Upper Clark Fork River Basin Aquatic and Terrestrial Resources Restoration Plan