The Clark Fork River which runs through Missoula

By Bampen Chaiyarak,Thailand

The Clark Fork River is the backbone of western Montana. This river where gathers waters from such fabled tributaries as the Flathead,Big Blackfoot, and Bitteroot rivers, and the land that the water glides through is home to deer,elk,moose,black bears,grizzly bears, and wolves. Montana’s two native trout species-the bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout-make this watershed their home.” This is the story of the Clark Fork river which runs through Missoula.

When I went to the upper of The Clark Fork River, discovered an important issue in the history about the ecological changes in occur and affected to the economic,social, and culture of the residents.

Considered to mining site in upper of the Clark Fork river as the scar which beginning with a mining boom during the last 1800s and well into 1900s, much was asked of the Clark Fork River, and much was delivered. The clossal mines at the river’s headwaters near Butte, Montana fueled the industrial revolution and two world wars by suppying the world with copper. The biggest job of all, though, was the carring off of the mining weste. That was left to the Clark Fork, and the river paid the price. Even today, its banks, soil, and floodplain are contaminated with metals, and its upper 140 miles make up the largest contaminated area in the this country.

The heavy metals from historical mining, milling, and smelting activities associated with the Anaconda Company operations in Butte and Anaconda have accumulated in the river streambanks and floodplain over a period of at least 100 years. The primary sources of contamination are tailings and contaminated sediments mixed with soils in the streambanks and floodplains, which erode during high flow events and enter the river and other surface waters. As a secondary source, heavy metals are leached from the contaminated sediments and tailings directly into the groundwater and eventually to surface water. These contaminant transport pathways result in impacts to terrestrial and aquatic life along the rive.

What very interesting for me are contaminated river restoration activities which have begun and implemented. They are trying to remove heavy metals in severely impacted areas and also provide geomorphic stability during reestablishment of riparian vegetation after construction, revegetate through the establishment of plant communities capable of stabilizing soils against wind and water erosion.

Restoration ecology devastating was started already there but nobody know when it will be accomplished.


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