Mining

This season on Richest Hill you’ve been hearing all about what mining meant for Butte, the toxic legacy it left behind, and about sprawling efforts to clean it up that have spanned more than 30 years.

And this week, something big is gonna happen.

A new study says it’s possible to rebuild a creek — destroyed by decades of mining — that once flowed through Butte. But it won’t be easy and it won’t come cheap.

A statue of a miner
Phil Guest / Flickr CC BY 2.0


Coal workers in Montana are out of a job until a Navajo-owned company and the state settle a dispute over the extent to which the Tribe is subject to state environmental law.

This week, the parties in charge of the Superfund cleanup of the Butte Hill and urban creek corridors agreed on a final cleanup deal, marking a turning point in the Mining City’s decades long Superfund saga.

The Environmental Protection Agency is rolling out an updated plan to protect Anaconda’s creeks from copper smelter waste. But some locals this week said they’re worried the federal government may back away from Montana’s strict water quality standards for heavy metals.

Montana wildlife officials are investigating what’s being described as a "significant" fish kill along the banks of the Upper Clark Fork River.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist Nathan Cook fielded a report this weekend of several dead fish downstream of Warm Springs and upstream of Galen.

Those awaiting the final Superfund cleanup deal, or consent decree, for the Butte Hill and urban Silver Bow Creek corridor are going to have to wait a little longer.

A pile of coal, 2012.
bartb_pt/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality opened a 30-day public comment period Tuesday for a proposed major revision at Spring Creek Coal Mine in southeast Montana. The revision could allow about 72 million tons of coal to be mined.

Flickr User, Tim Lumley (CC-by-2.0)

The Custer Gallatin National Forest is hosting public meetings about a proposal to update its management plan for the next 10 to 15 years. The Forest Service released a draft plan last month that could essentially re-zone sections of the 3 million acre forest and affect how people use it. Two national forests — the Custer and the Gallatin — were combined into one administrative unit in 2014, but it’s still being managed under two separate plans from the 1980s. 

A wide swath of wilderness north of Yellowstone National Park will be protected from new mining claims over the next two decades.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has signed an order that protects 30-thousand acres in Montana's Paradise Valley after proposals were introduced to start two new gold mines there.

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