City prepares to burn Milltown Dam debris in riverfront park


MISSOULA, Mont. - You might see some smoke plumes in downtown Missoula Thursday, as the city torches some Milltown Dam debris.

About 150 to 200 logs are piled up in the Clark Fork Natural Park on the south shore of the river between Higgins Avenue and Orange Street.

The Orchard Homes Irrigation Company and the city have been working to remove logs released from the Milltown Dam removal project.

After some research they decided the least harmful way to dispose of the logs is to burn them. Hauling the logs off site with heavy equipment could damage the park, riverbank and would close the riverfront trail.

"The amount of disturbance that would be caused  by hauling these logs out, multiple trucks, having to close down the trail for weeks, and then just getting the logs back across the water would exceed the level of  disturbance that would come from just burning them on-site," said City Conservation Lands Manager Morgan Valliant.

Valliant said they hope to burn the piles tomorrow if the weather permits. If they wait too long the river will rise and they won't be able to access the logs until fall.

People who live in the area are asked to shut their windows; there will be lots of smoke as a result of the burn; burning likely last from 9 a.m. until midnight for at least two days.

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