NewsMontana and Regional News


County commissioners discuss Black Eagle project

black eagle superfund.jpg
Posted at 6:12 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 20:46:11-05

Tuesday night at a special meeting, Cascade County commissioners voted on a conceptual land use plan for the Anaconda Copper Mine Smelter and Refinery Superfund site in Black Eagle.

The board was presented with three land use options by Water and Environmental Technologies (WET) which has been working on the plan since 2017.

They were ranked based on criteria in recreational benefits, construction costs, maintenance costs and compatibility with superfund remedy plans.

Click here to view the presentation (PDF).

Commissioners unanimously selected Option C, which includes an amphitheater, 18-hole disc golf course, interpretive center, and smelter stack replica, among other features.

The bulk of the land on the site is owned by ARCO, which is handling remediation of the site. There’s no guarantee that Arco will accept the proposed plan. Option C also included an archery range on ARCO property, and the commissioners made a note of that when passing the resolution.

Since ARCO would incur constructions costs, commissioners wanted to select a plan that kept maintenance costs low while also appealing to the public.

"We all felt strongly that, not knowing what the future would look like as far as any financing for maintenance,” said commissioner Joe Briggs. “That we needed to get Atlantic Ridgefield to pay for building something that would be as inexpensive as possible to maintain, because (the county) doesn’t have a parks department.”

The old smelter site was designated a superfund site in 2011, and the county received a grant from the EPA in 2017 to convert the area into something usable.

Cleanup is expected to take several more years, so re-development is still a ways off.