Kennedy Creek was one of the most heavily mined watersheds in the Ninemile valley. Three lode claim mines were located on or adjacent to upper Kennedy Creek in the Ninemile Valley, Montana from 1932 to 1996. The uppermost mine, the Last Chance or Hauttula is the oldest of the claims. The middle mine was known as the Lost Cabin and was a group of 6 mining claims. The Nugget was the largest mine and last active mine, operating for 28 years and encompassing the former Last Chance and Lost Cabin claims. The Nugget was a group of 18 claims totaling 372 acres.
Approximately 1.7 miles of Kennedy Creek have been heavily impacted by mining, resulting in an over widened channel characterized by unstable banks, a lack of habitat diversity, and reduced riparian vegetation. In addition, mining is the probably cause for elevated concentrations of copper, lead, zinc, and possibly mercury in Kennedy Creek. Additional monitoring is currently under way to fully understand the metals loading mechanisms in the watershed, but the adits in the mining complex and elevated metals in stream sediment concentrations are probably the primary sources of the metals. Zinc levels in the adit discharge are highly elevated and will be a major focus of the reclamation work.
The overall goal of the project is to reclaim the water and land in the Kennedy Creek drainage that has been affected by mineral development to improve water quality and native fish habitat. The ultimate objectives of this project are to remove mine waste from the streamchannel and floodplain, isolate mine waste in a repository, re-establish a functional stream channel, and create diverse and quality in-stream habitat. Efforts to improve the stream channel, floodplain habitat, and water quality is intended to benefit westslope cutthroat.
Trout Unlimited and Missoula County received a planning and development grant from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for planning and design activities. Consulting engineers have surveyed the .75 miles of Kennedy creek and are currently designing an appropriate engineering plan that will include reclamation of mining spoils, settling ponds and the design of a new stream channel and floodplain.