County hosting public meeting Aug. 18 on plans for future development in and around Art Higgins Memorial Park

The Cascade County Commission is hosting a public hearing via ZOOM at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 to comment on three alternatives for future developments in and around Art Higgins Memorial Park, part of the Black Eagle Superfund remediation.

The commissioners hope to select a preferred alternative immediately following the public hearing, according to a county release.

County moving forward with plans for former smelter, park in Black Eagle

The Art Higgins Memorial Park, a county park managed and maintained by the nonprofit Black Eagle Park Board, is located between the abandoned high line and low line railroad spurs that served the former ACM Smelter and Refinery.

Conceptual Plan for OU1

Park Trail Connectivity Plan Option A

Park Trail Connectivity Plan Option B

Park Trail Connectivity Plan Option C

The facility operated as a copper smelter from 1893 to 1917, and later as a copper and zinc refinery until its closure in 1980.

Sampling and investigations of the soils in the area revealed contamination in the area and the smelter and refinery site was registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the national priority list as a Superfund site in 2010.

The EPA identified three operable units, or OUs, within the site to better manage investigation and remedial activities.

Public meeting tonight on plans for former smelter site, Black Eagle Park

OU-1 includes Art Higgins Memorial Park and the Black Eagle neighborhoods west of the former ACM property.

OU-2 is the former ACM site and stack area, Anaconda Golf Course and land along the river owned by Montana State, Northwestern Energy and Cascade County.

OU-3 is the Missouri River from 15th Street Bridge downriver to Fort Benton.

Draft plans for former smelter site include trails, mountain bike area, archery, folf and more

In August 2016, commissioners accepted an EPA Cooperative Agreement Grant authorizing county personnel to develop a request for proposals to:

  • Develop Park Plans and Trail connection strategies for OU-1;
  • Develop a Land Use Master Plan for OU-2;
  • Explore Long Term Management Options for the land within OU-2

Water and Environmental Technologies of Butte, partnered with L’Heureux Page Werner Architecture, Land Design Inc. and Community Development Services and submitted a proposal for the work.

Water park among crowd favorites for ideas for former smelter stack, but cost could make it unlikely

Cascade County awarded the contract to WET to accomplish the three deliverables presented in the RFP.

Beginning in 2017, WET reviewed existing planning documents, interviewed several stakeholder groups, and conducted on-site field visits. Key stakeholder work groups were established. WET convened several meetings and developed three concept alternatives for trail connections, parking, and vehicle circulation at the county park incorporating public comment.

The resulting concept plan was the culmination of multiple public meetings and input from the Black Eagle community. The conceptual plan was revealed at a final community meeting in 2018. With the impending start of contaminant cleanup in the OU-1 area, the County Commissioners need to select a preferred alternative to help guide the cleanup strategy, thus the purpose for this public hearing and commission meeting.

At the Aug. 18 public hearing WET will review the three alternatives presented in their final report titled “Art Higgins Memorial Park/Trail Access and Connectivity Plan,” dated October 2018 relating to OU-1. The Commissioners will then open a public hearing to accept comments, prior to taking action to select a preferred alternative.


  • Review the WET report and separate plans on the county website.
  • Join the Zoom meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. on Aug. 18. The public will be invited to make comment at the meeting. See directions on how to access the ZOOM meeting on the county website.
  • If you are unable to attend the meeting to provide comment, written comments will be accepted into the record if received by close of business on Aug. 17, at: Board of Cascade County Commissioners, Courthouse Annex, Room 111, 325 2nd Ave. N., 59401