June 14, 2009
Redevelopment at the Milltown Superfund site continues to move forward with the effort to raise funds for a state park amenities proposed at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers.
In March, the Milltown Superfund Redevelopment Working Group, the Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Missoula County jointly submitted a $6 million proposal to the Natural Resource Damage Program. Under the plan, the Milltown Gateway (the area adjacent to the new pedestrian bridge) is envisioned as a focal point for activity along the Blackfoot that celebrates community and river history with interpretive signage, viewing platforms and trails, a picnic area and pavilion, and walk-in river access points for fishing and floating.
From the gateway, a trail along the Blackfoot River will lead to the confluence area. The centerpiece will be a modest pavilion shelter and plaza on the site's high point to take advantage of the panoramic view of the restored confluence. Interpretive displays will help visitors understand the site's human and natural history and the rivers' restoration. Additional site amenities will include picnic tables, benches, and rest rooms. The trail will continue to a footbridge across the Clark Fork (near the existing railroad bridge) and will ultimately connect with the Kim Williams Trail and adjoining parklands on the Milltown Bluff.
The request asks for operational support for the initial five-year startup period. In addition, the proposal seeks to acquire 180 acres of land through the Montana Working Forest Project. FWP hopes to acquire lands adjacent to the Milltown Bluff and the Blackfoot River as well as a 100-acre piece on Bonner Mountain, which would be turned over to the Bonner School for management.
The project proposal is the result of six years of collaborative public process led by the Milltown Working Group. The Working Group partnered with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and others to create a conceptual design plan for a new state park at the Milltown site. Last year, the Working Group and the Clark Fork Coalition jointly submitted a proposal that secured NRD Funds to acquire lands from NorthWestern Energy on behalf of the state.
Funded by an EPA grant, the Working Group is composed of Bonner-Milltown residents, representatives of community groups, and river stakeholders appointed by the Missoula County Commissioners. (CFRTAC has participated in the Working Group since its start.)
Since its inception in 2003, the Working Group has played a key role in community projects that have spun-off from the Milltown Superfund effort. The Working Group, with community involvement, created a conceptual redevelopment plan that led in part to the creation of the Bonner community council, development of trails in the Piltzville area, and the construction of the new pedestrian bridge, as well as history and culture projects.