HELENA, Montana – Cooks crowd the kitchen to spice the pot known as the Tenmile Creek watershed on the Helena/Lewis and Clark National Forest.
The city of Helena, Montana’s capital, relies on the 53-square-mile Tenmile watershed as its main source of drinking water for about 30,000 people. The supply system includes almost five miles of wooden flumes and trestles, constructed by the Helena Water Works Company in the late 1800s and purchased by the city in 1911.
Yet the 26,000-acre watershed has the dubious distinction of having the worst conditions of all the national forests and grasslands in Montana and portions of Idaho and the Dakotas, according to a 2011 report, based in part on historic mining and logging activity. [Read more…]