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Home Restore Clark Fork Superfund Cleanup
Upper Clark Fork Superfund Cleanup Print E-mail


The Clark Fork: A hard-working river on the rebound

After two decades of science-based advocacy on the part of the Clark Fork Coalition and its partners, the upper Clark Fork will undergo tremendous change in coming years. The Superfund cleanup, which started in 2010, will remove toxic metals from streambeds, streambanks, and the floodplain along 43 river miles. The State of Montana will then oversee the subsequent restoration work. In all, over $300 million will be spent repairing the river, particularly in the Deer Lodge valley.  At the Coalition, we're working in the hope that the restoration provides long-term ecologial, economic, and cultural assets for the watershed.

The latest:

In 2013, crews removed mining waste and replanted riparian vegetation along 1.6 miles of the river below Warm Springs Ponds in the initial phase of the Superfund cleanup on the Upper Clark Fork River. And it's just one part of an unprecedented, major cleanup effort. Over the next ten years, the entire Clark Fork mainstem from Warm Springs to Drummond will be rebuilt and restored. It's a moment that's been worth waiting for. That's why we're asking the MT Fish & Wildlife Commission to keep this 1.6 mile stretch closed for 18 additional months to help protect the river during its recovery process. You can help - call the Chairman of the MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission at 406-347-3495 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and request an additional a closure at the Phase 1 Superfund area until Fall 2015. 

Photo Gallery from Phase 1 Superfund Cleanup, 1.6 miles of river downstream of Warm Springs:



contaminatedsoilawaitingremoval ContractorsClearandStockpileVegetationonSite HaulTrucksMovingCleanDirtforHaulRoadsOnSite
View of "slickens" in Upper Clark Fork Contaminated soil awaiting removal Clearing and stockpiling vegetation on site Haul trucks moving clean dirt
closeupofaddingsoilbehindcoirlogsforbankrebuild Phase1ontheriver rebuiltstreambankwithdoublelift reconstructedbankcloseup
Adding soil behind coir logs for bank rebuild View of ongoing work (haul road in foreground) Rebuilt streambank with double lift Close-up of reconstructed bank


What's Next: Cleanup at Dry Cottonwood Creek Ranch

We're working to ensure that the Superfund cleanup is a top-notch scientific endeavor that offers tangible benefits to ranchers and local communities. In 2005, we purchased a 2,300-acre working cattle ranch in one of the most polluted areas of the Deer Lodge Valley near the Galen exit. At our ranch, we're maintaining a learning site to explore the challenges and opportunities of the cleanup. This effort began in earnest in late 2010 when contractors with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) began digging test pits on the Coalition's property, taking soil samples from over 500 test pits. This sampling gave us a better grasp of the scope and limit of contamination on the ranch. Now, we're gearing up for Superfund cleanup to commence on our property in 2014. Over the past several years our ranch manager and restoration staff have been contributing to the development of site-specific design options and participating in the technical aspects of the cleanup. We'll keep members and supporters updated via photo documentation, tours, and more throughout the spring and summer.

Get Involved

For the Superfund cleanup to have long-lasting positive impact, it is imperative that local communities, regional policy and conservation stakeholders, and the state of Montana work together to maximize the recovery of this ecosystem, and restore the natural environment. With over $100 million dollars recovered from a Natural Resource Damage (NRD) lawsuit, former Governor Schweitzer recently signed off on the State of Montana’s NRD Program's long-term plan to allocate these dollars. Learn more about the NRD program.

In 2011, our stream restoration team wrote and released our Aquatic Restoration Strategy for the Upper Clark Fork Basin, which outlines our goals for an integrated, prioritized tributary restoration in the Upper Clark Fork that will augment the ongoing Superfund cleanup on the mainstem of the river. We've created this streategy with input and help from our partners-- including the Watershed Restoration Coalition, Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee, US Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Our goal is to bring the upper Clark Fork to a true and lasting recovery, with full ecological and economic benefits. Read more about our stream restoration program.

Online Resources:

The Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee (CFRTAC) is the go-to resource for the Superfund cleanup on the Clark Fork.  Visit their website at

Download the latest Upper River Review, a collaborative public information piece from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Natural Resource Damage Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Clark Fork River Technical Assistance Committee.

For the most up-to-date information on the Superfund cleanups in the Upper River, visit the EPA site.