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Missoula County seeking volunteers

Missoula County needs volunteers to serve on a working group that will explore redevelopment possibilities in the Milltown and Bonner areas following the Superfund cleanup of Milltown Reservoir.

In cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and community members, the county is coordinating redevelopment planning for the Superfund site and surrounding area. A steering committee is already at work outlining the planning process; now, a broad-based group is needed to do the planning.

The working group will include 15 to 20 people from local and neighboring communities who can work collaboratively to recommend a redevelopment and restoration plan to Missoula County.

Group members will meet five to six times over the next year. People who want to be involved should be open-minded and willing to work with others - including those they may not always agree with. They should also have a strong interest in successful redevelopment, restoration and recreational development in the Milltown area.

Organizers said the process is not intended to rehash issues related to the Superfund cleanup, or the EPA's proposal to remove the most contaminated reservoir sediments and Milltown Dam. Instead, the working group will focus on where to go next - once the cleanup is completed - to best benefit the community and Missoula County.

In 2001, Missoula County proposed a Two Rivers restoration project, which would include restoration of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers, development of trails, river recreation access sites, whitewater areas and historical interpretive facilities.

The county's proposal also included several potential commercial and residential development projects, as previously proposed in the Two Rivers Community Action Plan.

Area residents and business owners have since added other suggestions, including street paving, construction of sidewalks and walkways, children's parks and the development of visitor facilities - a motel, or bed-and-breakfast.

To apply to become part of the working group, contact the Missoula County commissioners' office at 523-4877. Applications will be accepted through May 30.

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