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Editor's note: This letter to Butte-Silver Bow Commissioner Bill Andersen was also sent to The Montana Standard and the NRD.

Commissioner Andersen,

 I am quite disturbed in many respects over the article in the October 8th Montana Standard related to the so-called “11th Street Triangle” dispute.

It troubles me much that an area which was being used as a dump site, was contributing storm water sediment to the system that ultimately ends up in Silver Bow Creek, and no doubt was a haven for natural noxious weed infestation is now being hammered as a public menace after somebody has tried to do something beneficial with the area by means of a low-cost, self-sustaining project. It is stunning to read that natural plants are deemed an eyesore, while a pile of illegally disposed of construction debris and dirt running in the street was perfectly fine.

I fully intend to write the NRD staff and demand they ask that the resource damage money that was spent to prepare and vegetate the area be returned and further, that no more NRD money be spent in Butte if this will be the outcome. There are numerous public meetings associated with these efforts — so the notion that there is no chance for input is nonsense. If folks see the work going on and do not say anything to their elected representatives until the whole project is finished, that is negligent. I have exactly zero doubt that the people of Anaconda, Opportunity, Deer Lodge, Drummond and so on would love to see the same NRD money spent in their neighborhood, and I suspect they would not piss and moan about the expenditure.

My Mom, living in your district, has been hit with substantial increases in taxation to support water parks, green lawns in other districts, and numerous other extravagances Who’s pocket will it come out of to put in a green lawn and the price of maintaining same in perpetuity at the “triangle” when a terraformed native vegetation can fulfill the mission with minimal or no expense? I have heard local government officials rant about “No more parks” and the associated expense of keeping them, and now I read that some of the very same public officials are promoting the exact same course. Why should my Mom pay higher taxes to put in a ridiculous lawn in another district. Why will we be wasting expensive water, placing added burden on the Big Hole River etc. to support the utterly ridiculous act of irrigating yet another trophy lawn in place of perfectly acceptable natural vegetation. Who will mow and weed — will my Mom have to pay more for city staff to have this nonsensical luxury. Why is my Mom paying to drag an entirely inappropriate piece of mining equipment to Butte from South Africa to fleece the public in it’s ability to remediate mine tailings.

What we need in Butte is substantially more self-sustaining natural areas and significantly fewer manicured lawns that we cannot afford — financially and environmentally. There are ranchers in the Big Hole that are forced to take a hit of their livelihood to maintain river flows. There are recreation folks who have to cease fishing, with an economic cost, because of low flows. Still, we are going to gouge the public to pump water to Butte to water the triangle. We also need far less of the fraud, waste, and abuse associated with shaking down the State of Montana to fund foibles like the “11th Street Triangle.” Quite a nice cottage industry, squandering exceptionally hard-won dollars from the Natural Damage Assessment to clean up an abandoned lot, then squeezing my Mom’s Social Security out of her to tear it all out and water and mow the bloody thing until she ends up in the Mountain View.

— Tom Bowler, Butte


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