July 1, 2008

Butte Could Receive $20 Million

By Justin Post, The Montana Standard, Butte

Jul. 1--Butte-Silver Bow could receive the lion's share of the $20 million available this year through the state's Natural Resource Damage Program for restorations in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin.

Fourteen projects representing more than $21 million in grants had been requested through the program this year.

Two projects totaling roughly $1.4 million were withdrawn by the applicants, however.

That means the funding requests this year total $19.8 million and the city-county has applied for roughly $10.2 million, or more than half, of that cash.

While there is no guarantee that amount will be approved, the grant requests from Butte-Silver Bow have met the minimum qualifications for funding and are undergoing further analysis, said Carol Fox of the NRD program.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge also is in the running for a chunk of that money, with a more than $1.7 million grant application to replace 7,382 feet of water mains on Front and Alder streets.

"It was good news one dropped out so they didn't have to wring their hands and say 'which one gets left out?'" said Butte-Silver Bow Planning Director Jon Sesso.

Withdrawing applications were the Watershed Restoration Council's $199,933 request to remove fish passage barriers in lower Cottonwood Creek near its confluence with the Clark Fork River in Deer Lodge and a $1.2 million request from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to purchase land north of Anaconda near Modesty Creek.

"Both recognized they needed to further develop their projects," Fox said.

Butte-Silver Bow largest request is $3.7 million for a complete upgrade of the Big Hole River dam in 2010, with a $441,011 local contribution.

The Mining City is seeking another $1.65 million to replace 10,000 feet of Big Hole transmission line with a $504,000 local contribution.

Another $2.4 million is requested to replace 17,900 feet of Big Hole distribution line, a project in its eighth year, with the local government contributing another $314,000.

Another $2.1 million is requested for the Butte-Silver Bow Greenway project, also in its eighth year.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer is expected to make final funding decisions on all proposals in December.

The restoration projects will be funded with interest generated from the $130 million Restoration Fund established by the state in 1999 from settlement of several portions of its lawsuit against ARCO.

The suit sought compensation for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin caused by decades of mining and smelting in the Butte and Anaconda areas by ARCO and its predecessors.

-- Reporter Justin Post can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]


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