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Greenway Trail to be extended from Fairmont Road to Crackerville Road

Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:23:11 AM MST   Updated On: Aug 27 2013 05:32:18 PM MDT
BUTTE, Mont. -

Butte-Silver Bow is making strides on an ongoing project to clean up Silver Bow Creek.

NBC Montana spoke to city officials Monday and headed out to the restoration site to get the facts on the progress.

"This is an area that didn't support wild life, didn't support plant materials," said Butte Silver Bow Community Development Coordinator Dori Skrukrud.

Skrukrud is describing Silver Bow Creek, and she's eager to explain how the Greenway Trail Project will not only clean up decades of mining waste, but tie together a community from Butte to Anaconda.

Skrukrud explained, "We have about $19 million to complete the entire project, 50 percent of that, $10 million goes toward investments in the health of the stream and stream banks, and to create habitat in an area that was inundated with mine tailings and never supported bugs or bees."

A check of archives shows the long road to cleaning up mining pollution.

Since remediation began in 1999, the Department of Environmental Quality has removed more than 4 million cubic yards of contaminated mining tailings from the floodplain. That's critical.

Skrukrud said that mining pollution from the past 100 years is the reason Silver Bow Creek hasn't been enjoyed until now.

Portions of the trail are already complete.

"Whisky Gulch, which is down along the corridor," said Skrukrud, "that trail is completed all the way out to I-15. We have two access points -- one off Santa Claus Lane and one at the Rocker Depot."

The area off of Crackerville Road will eventually be a portion of the Greenway Trail. Right now, it's part of the reclamation project to clean up Silver Bow Creek.

"We decided we'd do this 1.5-mile segment of trail from Fairmont to Crackerville," said Skrukrud.

And Skrukrud tells NBC Montana the project is restoring the environment, but also providing an opportunity for the surrounding communities that, until now, was lost.

The Butte-Silver Bow Council Commissioners will discuss the next portion of the trail from Crackerville Road to Fairmont on Wednesday evening.