Celebration marks past and future of former Milltown Dam site

Posted at 9:29 AM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 11:29:46-04

MISSOULA – Glasses were full and spirits were high as community members celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the take-down of the Milltown Dam.

Montana State Parks held a fundraiser and commemoration of the progress they’ve made in the last 10 years on Thursday evening in Missoula. 

The breach of the Milltown Dam marked the beginning of a long journey in restoring the ecosystem and the old Superfund site is now home to Milltown State Park which is managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Public Parks Division.

“The clean up is basically finished, the removal of sediments and the dam and the restoration of the rivers," said Milltown State Park manager Mike Kustudia. "So the third piece of that is to develop the new state park.”

The Foundation sold commemorative plaques on young Canadian crab apples and Ponderosa pine trees or benches made from logs recovered at the bottom of the reservoir in order to raise money for public amenities at the park.

“It’s just great to see so many people turn out for the park, for the celebration of free-flowing rivers and clean water!” Kustudia said.

“I’m gonna put on the plaque on the bench and tree that I bought are the names of some of the people that made it happen. Because I want future people coming through the park to see those names and be grateful to them," said Vicki Watson who bought a plaque.

“It’s so exciting to see how the Clark Fork has transformed. So many people have worked so hard on this for so long. It’s an inspiring example to other people around the world who think they have a hopeless mess — it’s not hopeless, it’s just a lot of work," Watson told MTN News.

RELATED: KPAX Archive: Last piece of the Milltown Dam comes down (2009)