Restoration Milltown Reservoir

  • 'Clark Fork 320' Float Celebrates the Length of a River's Rebound


    A board member of the Clark Fork Coalition and his guide are floating nearly the entire length of the Clark Fork River, from the Deer Lodge Valley to Lake Pend Oreille, to highlight a river on the mend.

  • ‘Dam News’ Takes a Big Picture Look at Milltown Cleanup

    May 25, 2007

    Dam News 2007

    Hot off the press is the first issue of the Dam News (PDF), a new CFRTAC publication that looks at the basics of the Milltown Reservoir Superfund cleanup. Articles offer an overview of remediation, restoration and redevelopment, as well as the monitoring effort and work on bridge mitigation. The centerpiece graphic offers a visual explanation of the first stage of the cleanup now underway. Future issues will focus on dam removal and the state’s river restoration effort. For hard copies of the Dam News, call CFRTAC at 541-8099.

  • A Bird's Eye View of the Milltown Superfund Cleanup Progress

    After three years of cleanup work at the Milltown Reservoir Superfund site, the project has passed several major milestones. These aerial photos highlight some of that progress.

  • Agencies Host Milltown Superfund Update Meeting October 20

    The EPA and  State of Montana will hold a public meeting to give an update on the Milltown

  • Clark Fork - Blackfoot Restoration Planning Documents Online

    July 18, 2007

    The Natural Resource Damage Program has posted design documents for the restoration plan for the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers at Milltown at a FTP site. They are available at ftp://This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The user name is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the password is public. Included on the site is the draft performance critieria (also available here )(PDF) data summary reports for geomorphology and revegetation, a weed management plan and more.

  • Clark Fork and Blackfoot River Weed Pull Set for August 13

    August 7, 2008

    Join representatives of the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program and local residents to help out with restoration work — weed pulling — along the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers on August 13 at 6:30 p.m.

    Weeds pose a challenge to any restoration project but fortunately lend themselves to a community effort. Volunteers will meet on the east side of the Town Pump parking lot in Bonner overlooking the Blackfoot River (just off I-90 on Hwy 200). NRD representatives will be there to coordinate this effort and answer questions about the restoration work.

    Volunteers will pull weeds within the restoration area along the Blackfoot River in Milltown and along the Clark Fork above the Envirocon remediation area. The weed pull will last about 2 hours with water, garbage bags, and some tools provided. (If you have your own weed pulling tools please bring them). Also please bring your own work gloves and boots. For more information, call 258-6335.

  • Clark Fork Cleanups Help Quantify Montana's Restoration Economy

    A new study from the Governor's Office seeking to quantify the Restoration Economy in Montana

  • Conferences Focus on Law and Science of Clark Fork River Restoration

    September 21, 2006

    Two conferences next week (Sept. 25-29) will look at the law behind the Natural Resource Damage Program and the science of river restoration. The first is The Law of Ecosystem Restoration: National Policy Implications of the Clark Fork River Basin Natural Resource Damage Program. This conference will examine current NRD law and policy developments, as well as how this has played out in the Clark Fork River Basin.

    The second conference, Assessing Stream Restoration Success: Developing Sustainable Ecological and Physical Systems, is hosted by the University of Montana’s Center for Riverine Science and Stream Re-naturalization. The two-day meeting will include daylong fieldtrips, four invited keynote presentations that address the physical, geochemical, and biological aspects of assessing stream restoration projects,
    and a general poster session.

  • Data Gathering for Clark Fork-Blackfoot River Restoration Planning Advances

    December 8, 2006

    The state’s Natural Resource Damage Program continues its data gathering for the development of the restoration plan for the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers near the Milltown Dam. The NRD program recently released data summaries for the revegetation component (PDF) and the geomorphological studies (PDF).

  • FWP Announces Proposed River Closures; Seeks Cooperation on Fish Cages

    July 24, 2006

    The Monday Missoulian features a couple of articles relating to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Dept. and the Milltown cleanup. In the first one, the FWP plans to close portions of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers for the duration of the remediation and restoration efforts at the Milltown Reservoir, likely to be five years. The move, part of the Site Access and Control Plan for reservoir cleanup, would close the Blackfoot for a mile and half above the dam and the Clark Fork from a half-mile below the dam to three miles above it beginning September 1. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission will decide on the issue at its meeting in Missoula, August 3.

    The second article reports that the FWP Dept. is calling on the public to help it by simply not disturbing its monitoring fish cages. Recently, vandals destroyed one of the fish cages below the Milltown Dam. The cages are essential to the department’s effort to monitor the effects of the cleanup work on fish populations in the lower Clark Fork. “We just need people to leave our cages alone,” said David Schmetterling, a FWP biologist.

  • FWP Reminder: Milltown Confluence Area Still Closed to Public

    The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has issued a reminder that while the Milltown Dam is gone, small sections

  • Governor Announces Cleanup of Stimson Cooling Pond on the Blackfoot River

    August 7, 2008

    At a press conference in Bonner on Tuesday, Gov. Brian Schweitzer called for a cleanup and removal of a contaminated cooling pond built on the bank of the Blackfoot River at the Stimson Mill. The pond, in use for generations, contains roughly 87,000 cubic yards of sediments contaminated with carcinogenic PCBs and other toxic compounds.

    The governor, and DEQ director Richard Opper, discussed the state’s preliminary cleanup plan, which is out for public comment until Sept. 12. The sediments would be removed and shipped, depending on the degree of toxicity, to either the local landfill or a special facility in Idaho. The berm that encloses the pond would be removed and the banks included in the state’s restoration plan for the Milltown Superfund site at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers. The berm of the cooling pond had to be reinforced before beginning work at the Milltown Superfund site.

    The project, which could begin as early as next spring and take three to four months to complete, carries an estimated price tag of more than $5 million. For additional coverage, see the Missoulian’s article.

  • Governor Approves Funding for Bonner Hybrid Bridge

    May 18, 2007

    Hybrid bridge

    Gov. Brian Schweitzer recently signed off on Missoula County’s amended proposal to the state Natural Resource Damage (NRD) Program to develop a hybrid bridge over the Blackfoot River in the Bonner-Milltown area.

    The bridge was originally approved by the state in December 2006 but in the months since, the Montana Department of Transportation has decided to replace the Highway 200 Bridge in Milltown and its preliminary design includes a five-foot pedestrian walkway, prompting the NRD program to reconsider the project. In addition, the county submitted a revised design that incorporated historic elements from the existing bridge, which dates back to the early 1920s. Read more about it in the Missoulian here and here.

  • Governor Approves Milltown Land Acquisition and 10 Other NRD Projects

    December 23, 2008

    Merry Christmas Montana: the state now owns the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers and the land currently occupied by the Milltown Superfund site.

    Today, Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed off on a $13 million slate of Natural Resource Damage Program projects, including a $586,000 proposal to facilitate the state’s acquisition of more than 400 acres from the Northwestern Energy Company. The land transfer includes the confluence area and the Clark Fork flood plain above it and also the narrow strip along the Blackfoot River up to the pedestrian bridge in Milltown.

    The proposal was submitted jointly by the Clark Fork Coalition and the Milltown Superfund Redevelopment Working Group, a community stakeholder body appointed by the Missoula County Commissioners to look at the Superfund site’s future. The Working Group has long advocated the creation of public park at the site once the cleanup and restoration work is complete. Earlier this year, the group developed a conceptual design plan for a state park. For more on other approved projects, see the NRDP’s press release (PDF).

  • How to Remove a Powerhouse

    December 14, 2007

    Milltown Dam and Powerhouse
    Dam & Powerhouse

    The goings-on at Milltown Dam are about to get more dramatic this winter. If everything goes as expected between now and April, we’ll witness demolition of the powerhouse, a 12 – 14 foot drop in the reservoir level, and the first time the Clark Fork River has flowed free at the confluence since 1907.

    ARCO contractor Envirocon details how all of this will take place in their recent draft final design report “Stage 2A – Powerhouse and Right Abutment Removal and Stage 2 Drawdown" (PDF). This document is 90% of the way to the final plan, so while there may yet be a few changes and tweaks to incorporate – in fact we hope there are – the report gives us a good idea of how the work will proceed. Check out CFRTAC’s comments here (PDF).

    In a nutshell, here’s how it would go:
    • The right abutment – the part of the dam adjacent to the powerhouse on the north side – would be removed to an elevation below the existing ground surface
    • The shop on the north side of the powerhouse would be demolished and removed, followed by the brick north wall and part of the roof of the powerhouse.
    • The generators, weighing 19-24 tons each, would be lifted from the powerhouse by crane. The Milltown Redevelopment Working Group will save one of these for future display.
    • A horse-shoe shaped earthen cofferdam would be constructed just upstream of the powerhouse, in the same location where the Montana Power Company built one in 1988 for powerhouse repairs
    • A work pad and three-foot berm would be constructed just downstream of the powerhouse
    • The remaining walls, floor and roof of the powerhouse would be demolished, working south, and filling the tailrace voids with rubble from the powerhouse and right abutment as the work proceeds.
    • Concrete rubble, bricks and timbers from the dam and abutment would be put into an on-site repository located in the park area to the north. We are encouraging the agencies and Envirocon to look for ways to recycle the concrete and usable timbers in order to decrease the size of the repository. All steel would be recycled. The lead-based paint has already been stripped from the powerhouse walls and will be shipped to the landfill in Missoula. Asbestos in the roof will also be removed and disposed of in the Missoula landfill.
    • Work pads would then be removed, and the powerhouse footprint would be armored and re-graded to create the Stage 2 channel configuration. This is a temporary channel for the river since the final river channel will eventually be constructed where the spillway currently sits.
    • The Clark Fork River upstream of the dam will be redirected into the newly completed bypass channel next to I-90.
    • A breach channel will be constructed from the powerhouse/abutment area toward the Blackfoot River to channel and direct river flow toward the temporary Stage 2 channel.
    • The cofferdam will be removed.
    • The new powerhouse channel will be breached, either by raising the level of the reservoir with the radial gate, or by allowing natural high flows to overtop the wedge of sediment separating the channel from the reservoir. At this point, the reservoir will drain by another 12-14 feet, and the combined flows of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers will run into a temporary channel through the powerhouse footprint.

    The channel breach and subsequent erosion as the reservoir level drops will cause the river to be a lot muddier than usual this spring. The good news is that since the Clark Fork will be in the bypass channel, all the eroded sediment will come from the Blackfoot River, which is clean. The muddy water conditions may last for several months until the Blackfoot River erodes to an elevation that is in equilibrium with the new lower level at the dam. There’s no doubt that this stage of the project will have the biggest impact to the river, but it will be short-lived.

    Looking forward, the next step will be to construct a cofferdam to isolate the spillway this summer, and spillway demolition will occur in fall 2008. The new permanent channel will be created in this location, and the river will be routed into it in late winter of 2009.

    The text, figures and appendices of this report are available to the public on Envirocon’s ftp site (ftp://public:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./). Look for the folder “Stage 2A DFDR.” Open the folders until you find the files, then drag the files to your desktop and allow them to download. Do not try to open files directly from the ftp window.

  • Log Removal Planned for Blackfoot River

    October 3, 2006

    More than three hundred logs will be removed the Blackfoot River bed and banks this fall, according to the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation. Long submerged by the Bonner Dam, the logs began to appear after that dam was removed last fall and the subsequent drawdown of the Milltown Reservoir. “The logs pose a threat to the Milltown Dam radial gate and spillway if they were to float downstream next spring during the run-off and plug the radial gate creating both safety and operational control problems,” said Tony Liane, a DNRC spokesman. For more details, see the DNRC press release or the Missoulian’s coverage.

  • May Day at Milltown

    May 1, 2007

    Milltown work site

    May 1st is May Day. For pagans, it’s a day to mark the renewal of nature and for much of the industrial world outside North America, it’s a day to recognize workers. At the Milltown Reservoir Superfund site, there’s good cause to celebrate both.

  • Milltown Cleanup Begins Shift from Remediation to Restoration

    With the dam and the majority of the sediments removed, remediation at the Milltown Superfund site winds down, while restoration work continues to gear up along the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers.

  • Milltown Divider Block Removed

    Former Milltown Dam Site With the removal this week of the concrete divider block, the last visible remains of the Milltown Dam are now gone. Next week, the breach of the cofferdam will lower the river two to three feet and allow the Clark Fork to be diverted into its future (and possibly one-time) channel at the base of the Milltown Bluff

  • Milltown Divider Block Removed

    With the removal this week of the concrete divider block, the last visible remains of the Milltown Dam are now gone.

Go to top