Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape

Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape


About five hundred people live in
Opportunity today The Clark Fork burbles past between poisoned banks alongside Opportunity’s pastures The copper that wired America had a price, and Opportunity paid it. The restoration of the Clark Fork has a price, too, and Opportunity is paying again. The Clark Fork wouldn’t have been destroyed
without the millions of tons of copper gouged out of the ground at its headwaters. Opportunity’s ponds wouldn’t be buried
without the smelter that sent Butte’s treasure out into the world. What once polluted the Clark Fork by
accident and neglect is now being visited on Opportunity by design. In another decade the river’s banks and bottom will be spread
out atop Opportunity’s dusty plateau’s miles from where they are today. This landscape is disappearing and I
want to remember it.

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