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Crews continue to remove tons of rock from streams and rivers in Carbon County

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Posted at 10:12 AM, Dec 01, 2023

EDGAR - Montana’s historic flooding in 2022 drug rock down into riverbeds in Carbon County causing water levels to rise. Now that rock is being removed by the ton and piled up near Edgar to prevent future infrastructure damage.

A final disposal site for the rock is expected to collect 10,000 tons of material after its removal from streams and rivers. It's all part of a $2.7 million project which has received 75 percent of its funding from FEMA. The remaining funding comes from the state disaster fund.

"The county is going to take possession of it. They can crush it, use for road base. It does have a reusable product at the end of it," said Johnny Osborne, the project manager.

Osborne is a contractor with CTC Disaster Response, one of three contractors removing the flood debris in Montana. He lives in South Carolina, but Red Lodge has been his temporary home since April when the state's first flood debris removal project ramped up.

Osborne and his team removed homes and trees from waterways in a separate $5.5 million project that ended in September, removing 144,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris.

"Worst case scenario, if we have another high water event we could have more potential damage to infrastructure like roads and bridges. That’s the worst case scenario," said Jake Ganieny of Montana Disaster and Emergency Services.

It's critical, officials say, to remove excess rock down to the low water mark under bridges

"We want to make sure we don’t cause any kind of additional damage as a result of the flood. The flood caused so much damage for hundreds of miles of rivers all across southwest Montana," said Ganieny.

That’s why this project is underway now, nearly a year and a half after the floods hit. It required additional permitting, reviews, and oversight by multiple federal, state and county agencies.

"Here we’ve got some sensitive areas we have to work in, follow all kinds of guidelines from environmental folks, biologists," Osborne said.

If the weather holds and the water level remains low the project is set to wrap up Dec. 13.