Join the Berkeley Pit Snow Geese Memorial Project

On the night of November 14, 1995, an immense flock of migrating Snow Geese made the mistake of landing in the Berkeley Pit, an abandoned open-pit copper mine in Butte, Montana, that is flooded with toxic water. Thirsty after their long flight, the elegant white birds drank the acidic water, which contains poisonous levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper and other heavy metals. Soon after, 342 of the birds were dead from acute copper poisoning exacerbated by skin lesions in their mouths and throats.

As the 20th anniversary of the Snow Geese tragedy has arrived, efforts are under way to imagine, design, and create a memorial to their passing. Montana State University Professor Melissa Ragain devoted her fall 2015 class in public art and activism to the snow geese, asking her students to envision what a memorial might be. The Imagine Butte Resource Center recently staged an exhibit of some of their best ideas. The Butte daily newspaper ran a front-page article on the 20th anniversary. If you would like to support this effort, or just be informed about its progress through an occasional newsletter, you can join the Berkeley Pit Snow Geese Memorial Project by filling out the form below. If you'd like to do more by volunteering your skills and time, please email me directly at Thank you!

History Repeats Itself--December 2016:

Early in December an immense super-flock of snow geese landed on the Berkeley Pit. While the final toll has still not been made public, early estimates are that at least a thousand birds died, perhaps many more than that. Given this latest tragedy, as well as other recent alarming events in the nation, a memorial to the past no longer seems adequate. Rather, these dire events cry out for a much more ambitious attempt to transform the Berkeley Pit into an enduring monument that will warn both snow geese and humans. For more thoughts, please see my recent op-ed in High Country News: "May the Flock Be With You."