Streambeds and plants replace Mike Horse Mine tailings as restoration enters 5th season

By Tom Kuglin, Excerpt from the Helena Independent Record

A revegetation crew works to plant trees along the remediated riparian areas in the former Mike Horse Mine complex. Thom Bridge,

Beau Downing reached into Bear Trap Creek and picked up a rock, turning it over and examining it closely until he found the collection of black specks he was looking for.

“When you flip over these rocks and you find stoneflies, it means the water is half decent,” the restoration project manager with the Montana Department of Justice said. “With how we constructed the channel, that’s encouraging to see.”

Downing and Montana Department of Environmental Quality construction manager Shellie Haaland recently surveyed the valley making up the headwaters of the Blackfoot River and the former site of the Mike Horse Mine and its tailings impoundment. It was here in 1975 that the impoundment’s berm collapsed in heavy rain, flushing up to 200,000 cubic yards of contaminated waste into the river that killed aquatic life for miles.

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