Governor Bullock, Attorney General Fox announce approved plan to restore Yellowstone River oil spill damage

Governor Bullock, Attorney General Fox announce approved plan to restore Yellowstone River oil spill damage

Source: KXLO
Click here to read the article: http://www.kxlo-klcm.com/news/6261-governor-bullock-attorney-general-fox-announce-approved-plan-to-restore-yellowstone-river-oil-spill-damage

Written by Ronja Abel Communications Director Montana Governor Steve Bullock

HELENA – The State of Montana and U.S. Department of the Interior have issued the Final Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the Exxonmobil Pipeline Company July 1, 2011 Yellowstone River Oil Spill. The restoration plan describes the natural resource injuries caused by the oil spill and restoration project types to compensate for those injuries.

“This is a critical step in restoring the damages caused to Montana’s Yellowstone River and its surrounding communities and local economies,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “I’m pleased we are moving forward in our plans to protect one of the last, great, free-flowing rivers in the United States – one that plays a critical role in our $6 billion outdoor economy.”

Attorney General Tim Fox said, “This final restoration plan was developed through the efforts of the Montana Department of Justice’s Natural Resource Damage Program and the U.S. Department of the Interior, along with the assistance of members of the public. Known historically by the Crow Tribe as E-chee-dick-karsh-ah-shay (Elk River), the Yellowstone River stands as one of the last and greatest unobstructed waterways of America. We are excited to begin implementation of this plan to restore and improve the natural resources of the Yellowstone River, and we look forward to the day that this sacred treasure has been completely restored.”

The State of Montana and the United States entered into a $12 million natural resource damage settlement with Exxonmobil, which was approved by the Court in December. The State of Montana will be implementing almost $9.5 million in restoration projects on the Yellowstone River in the next few years. “The restoration plan includes a range of project types that address specific injuries associated with the oil spill, and in total will make the environment and public whole,” said Alicia Stickney, Natural Resource Damage Program Project Manager. “The plan will guide restoration of the Yellowstone River to improve natural and recreational resources of the river injured due to the spill.”

A public meeting will be held on February 15, 2017, 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, at the Billings Red Lion Convention Center, 1223 Mullowney Lane, to present the final plan and responses to comments from the community, and present more information about plan implementation. The State plans to work with project partners such as local, State, and Federal agencies and nonprofit organizations and landowners to implement the projects.

To assist with the development of recreation projects, the State is forming a locally-based ad-hoc Recreation Advisory Committee to prepare a draft Recreation Project Plan for how approximately $2.3 million will be spent on recreation projects on the Yellowstone River impacted by the spill. The draft Recreation Project Plan will be submitted to the Governor for approval. The Recreation Advisory Committee will solicit projects and input from the community.

“Watch for this opportunity to submit good recreation project ideas that will benefit the recreation resources of the Yellowstone River,” Stickney said.

The final restoration plan, responses to comments, and additional information are available on the Montana Natural Resources Damage Program website at: https://dojmt.gov/lands/yellowstone-river-oil-spill-july-2011/. If you would like a hard copy of the plan or responses to comments, please contact the NRDP at nrdp@mt.gov or 406-444-0205.

The restoration plan describes the natural resource injuries caused by the oil spill and restoration project types to compensate for those injuries. Oil from the spill, along with the cleanup activities, harmed natural resources including fish and other aquatic life, birds (including migratory birds), wildlife, large woody debris piles, aquatic habitat, terrestrial habitat, recreational use, and the services provided by these natural resources. These public natural resources are under trusteeship of the State of Montana and the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Oil Pollution Act and other laws.

Project types include:

· Acquiring terrestrial/riparian bottomland to conserve and restore terrestrial habitat with some acquisitions focusing on habitat requirements for injured birds

· Controlling invasive woody species on state and federal lands

· Acquiring channel migration easements or acquisitions to provide large woody debris recruitment

· Removing flanked riprap from the river to improve river function and aquatic habitat

· Removing side channel blockages to improve river function and aquatic habitat

· Increasing fish production by providing fish passage around fish barriers

· Restoring and stabilizing river banks using soft bank restoration techniques

· Increasing American white pelican production by improving breeding and nesting areas

· Improving city parks and public lands bordering the Yellowstone River

· Improving urban fishing opportunities on public ponds adjacent to the Yellowstone River

· Developing new and preserving existing public access on the Yellowstone River

Source: Ronja Abel
Communications Director
Montana Governor Steve Bullock