Restoring Remedial Landscapes – Adaptive Restoration Design and Construction to Address Changing Site Conditions at the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex

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The Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex (UBMC) is an inactive mining district, mined intermittently from 1889 to the 1950’s. The UBMC is located at the headwaters of the Blackfoot River ~15 miles east of Lincoln, MT near the Continental Divide. A sizeable mine tailings dam and extensive floodplain contamination due to the tailings dam failure in the 1970’s resulted in a barren, toxic aquatic and floodplain environment at the headwaters of one of Montana’s most iconic rivers. Operating under a cooperative Watershed Restoration Agreement between the United States Forest Service, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program the cooperating agencies have worked together to integrate the removal of ~1 million cubic yards of mine tailings and the restoration of Beartrap, Mikehorse, and Anaconda Creeks, the Blackfoot River and all associated floodplains.

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Beau Downing is an aquatic restoration project manager at the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, where he has worked for almost 4 years. He holds a B.A. in Geology from Humboldt State University and an M.S. in Geology (Fluvial Geomorphology) from West Virginia University. His time at NRDP has been focused on fisheries restoration work in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (focused on priority tributaries to the UCFR) and the restoration of the Upper Blackfoot Mining Complex. Prior to working for the NRDP he worked as the Stream Protection Act Program Manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. When not working he spends his free time with his family or trail running around Helena.