During the months preceding the cleanup, citizens from several local neighborhoods were committed to investigating the issues to make sure that the community was receiving accurate information and that the agencies were hearing from proponents of the cleanup. In 2001 Gary Matson and Sue Furey held a series of Bonner Milltown Community Forums for this purpose. Chuck and Mary Erickson were in contact with their Rustic Road neighbors. Eventually these citizens met and joined efforts.

Nov. 2003: FOTR Anniversary Brings Satisfaction, Challenges
By Mary Erickson

In the spring of 2002 a small and diverse group of neighbors met for lunch at the River City Grill. Our one common feeling was that the best scenario for cleanup at Milltown Dam was total cleanup, including removal of the dam. We agreed we wanted to see restoration of the river bottom into an area that would be functional from a hydrological standpoint as well as a real asset to our community.

We discussed the possibility of a more formal organization but tabled the idea in favor of a neighbor-to-neighbor approach. That began a quiet campaign of simply encouraging others who felt as we did to get educated and speak up.

Spring rolled into summer and our quiet campaign continued, but the ARCO endorsed spread of misinformation was increasing proportionately. Finally we agreed that it was time to encourage those “quiet voices” to join together and, hopefully, be heard with greater recognition and impact.
In September enough enthusiastic folks attended a meeting to get the ball rolling. Again the commonality of opinion was apparent as a basic direction was decided on and a name, Friends of Two Rivers, was chosen.

Now a year has passed. Many positives have occurred. Governor Martz announced her support for cleanup, opening the way for progress. EPA’s proposed cleanup plan recommended cleanup and dam removal. The State river restoration plan recommended natural channel design.
FOTR did not make any of this happen, but we feel that the contributions of countless hours of volunteer effort and unselfish donations by our members have made a difference.

We sponsored public meetings on arsenic contamination, the effects of sediment and dam removal on groundwater levels in the Milltown area, the structural condition of the Milltown Dam.

We published 6 newsletters reporting on these topics plus the EPA’s proposed remediation plan and the State’s proposed restoration plan.

We advocate informed public involvement and work hard to fairly rebut inaccurate or incomplete information.

We foresee a vibrant future for our area based on a clean environment and natural river system. The process often seems long but, as Benjamin Franklin said, “A little neglect may breed mischief.”

FOTR enters its new year with appreciation for the process, the people, and the prospect of the future.

May, 2004: Conservation Award: The Burk-Brandborg Award was presented to Gary Matson on Earth Day, April 22, at the Conservation Roundtable. Gary was cited for his long-time volunteer efforts in behalf of conservation issues since his arrival in Montana in 1966 and culminating with his involvement with Friends of Two Rivers. The award is “given on special occasions to the person whose outstanding contributions in a given year contribute to natural resource conservation or environmental protection by a volunteer citizen-activist.”

Gary credits Mary and Chuck Erickson who were instrumental in founding the Friends of Two Rivers, and Sue Furey who worked with him on the Bonner Milltown Community Forum, the precursor to FO2R.

He also cites valuable assistance from the Missoula County Commissioners, Peter Nielsen, the Clark Fork Coalition, and CFRTAC. He recognizes the leadership of many dedicated conservationists including the inspiration he has received from the namesakes of the award, writer Dale Burk and the late Bitterroot Forest Supervisor G.M. Brandborg.

Gary’s past involvement in conservation issues includes work on the teratogenic effects of the brush killer 2,4,5-T, helping to organize area community opposition to the Northern Tier pipeline, work on land use issues as a board member of the Montana Environmental Information Center (formerly EIC), and membership in many conservation organizations.

September, 2005: First Community at the Confluence held.

February, 2006: First Hooked on Art held.

May, 2006: Jill Russell and Gary Matson were appointed to serve on the first Bonner Milltown Community Council.

Election, 2008: Tim Furey, a founding member of Friends of Two Rivers, was elected State Representative for House District 91.

April, 2009: Sue Furey volunteers to be Race Director of the inaugural Superfun(d) Run, a position she still holds.

May 2009: Chuck Erickson was elected to serve on the Bonner Milltown Community Council where he held the office of President.

May, 2009: Judy Matson was awarded the Dorothy Ogg for her work in preserving local history.

May, 2010: Gary Matson and Maria Ibarbia were appointed to serve on the Bonner Milltown Community Council.

Election, 2010: Tim Furey was reelected as State Representative for House District 91.

March, 2011:  Jen Slayden and Bonner science teacher and track coach Sean Kiffe organized the Jack Pack Runners Club. The middle school Jack Pack trains to run in the Superfun(d) Run held in April.

May 2012: The Burk-Brandborg Award was presented to Judy Matson at the Conservation Roundtable. Judy was cited for her volunteer efforts in bringing the community together through preserving local history, thus creating an enviroment conducinve to prodective community discussions.  The award is “given on special occasions to the person whose outstanding contributions in a given year contribute to natural resource conservation or environmental protection by a volunteer citizen-activist.”

November 2012: Friends of 2 Rivers celebrated its 10th anniversary.

May, 2013: Chuck Erickson was appointed to serve on the Bonner Milltown Community Council.

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