News Release

July 18 Cooke City event to celebrate ecological restoration of Soda Butte Creek; Decade-long project brought together agency and community partners to restore creek flowing into Yellowstone

Mountains are reflected in the still waters of Soda Butte Creek at sunset
Soda Butte Creek sunset reflections

NPS / Jacob W. Frank

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News Release Date: July 11, 2019

Contact: Karen Ogden, Montana DEQ, (w) 406-444-6360, (c) 406-461-2503

Contact: Morgan Warthin, (307) 344-2015

On July 18, 2019, the Beartooth Alliance, along with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the National Park Service (NPS), will host an event to celebrate the successful cleanup of the McLaren abandoned mine near Cooke City, Montana. The work resulted in the ecological restoration of Soda Butte Creek, which flows into Yellowstone National Park.

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.

The event will begin with speaker comments at 3 p.m. (see location details below) followed by a public tour of the reclaimed McLaren mine site.

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 media is invited to a Governor’s Briefing with Governor Bullock on Monday, July 15, at 10:30 a.m., in the Governor’s Reception Room on the second floor of the Montana State Capitol. Agency officials will be available to answer questions about the cleanup and delisting.

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

WHAT: Soda Butte Creek Cleanup Celebration

WHEN: Thursday, July 18, 3 p.m.

WHERE: 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. See map.

DEQ will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in the event. If you require an accommodation, please contact Autumn Coleman at 406-444-6687 or at least three days before the event.

Last updated: September 25, 2023

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