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Lewis & Clark County seeking grant for Grizzly Gulch restoration project

Posted at 6:38 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 14:28:51-04

Lewis and Clark County is seeking almost $300,000 from the state of Montana, to help pay for a stream restoration project south of Helena.

County commissioners voted Tuesday morning to send a grant application to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for the Grizzly Gulch Reclamation Project.

The project centers around the former Pretty Girl Placer Mine, a former gold mining operation along Grizzly Creek. Leaders say several decades of mining have disrupted the creek’s natural flow. The creek now runs through a series of pits, bringing more sediment downstream.

Jennifer McBroom, supervisor for the Lewis and Clark County Water Quality Protection District, said rebuilding the natural channel and floodplain would improve water quality and habitat, while providing better public access and public safety on Grizzly Gulch Drive.

Matt Johnson, a senior engineer with the firm RESPEC, said the current plan for the project would be relatively straightforward.

“We’re working with what’s available, and that proved to be the most economical project – so mainly just moving material around, establishing that natural slope the best we can,” he said.

Johnson said they do not believe the project area has any extensive contamination, because of the type of mining that was conducted there.

The grant application will have to go before the Montana Legislature next year. Lawmakers will make the final decision on whether or not to approve funding.

If the county gets the grant, McBroom said work could start in the spring of 2022.

The total project cost is estimated at $331,000. In addition to the grant, that would include a $10,000 reclamation bond from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, as well as in-kind work from the county and the landowner.