Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, Yellowstone visitation

Soda Butte Creek Restoration to be Celebrated Next Week

The Soda Butte Creek restoration, part of the successful cleanup of the McLaren abandoned mine near Cooke City, Montana, will be celebrated at an event July 18 at the mine site.

The event, hosted by the Beartooth Alliance, along with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the National Park Service (NPS), highlights the modern state of Soda Butte Creek, which flows into Yellowstone National Park through the Lamar Valley.

The event also will celebrate the life and accomplishments of the late Tom Henderson, the DEQ hydrogeologist who played a key role in the cleanup effort, which led to the first delisting of a waterway from Montana’s Impaired Waters List as the result of a mine cleanup.

The event will begin with speaker comments at 3 p.m. followed by a public tour of the reclaimed McLaren mine site. It will take place near a large turnout near the reclaimed McLaren mine site on the right side of HWY 212 less than a quarter mile east of Cooke City. Limited parking is available in the turnout. Participants are encouraged to park in Cooke City and either carpool or walk the short distance to the event.

The abandoned mine cleanup and delisting of Soda Butte Creek from the Environmental Protection Agency’s impaired waterbodies list represent millions of dollars, more than 10 years of work, and an unprecedented partnership between the DEQ, US Forest Service, NPS, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Beartooth Alliance, and the residents of Cooke City.

Tom Henderson, DEQ’s Project Manager for the McLaren Reclamation Project, passed away suddenly in October 2018. Tom spearheaded the cleanup and co-led the sampling plan required for Soda Butte Creek to be delisted. His expertise, initiative and ability to build agency and community partnerships were key to the project’s success.

Event speakers include Montana DEQ Director Shaun McGrath, former Montana DEQ Director Tom Livers (currently Montana State Budget Director), Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Joe Balash, Custer-Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson, and Beartooth Alliance Chair Kenneth Cummins.

The Beartooth Alliance will host an evening celebration at the Range Rider Lodge in Silver Gate, Montana.

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