2019 National Grand Award

Pioneer Technical Services and METG  Win National Engineering Excellence Grand Honor Award for The Prickly Pear Creek Realignment Project in East Helena, Montana

Pictured, from left to right, are: American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) President and CEO Linda Bauer Darr; Pioneer Technical Services, Inc. (Pioneer) Vice President Joel L. Gerhart; Montana Environmental Trust Group (METG) Director of Communications Christine Amrhine; METG Managing Principal Cynthia (Cindy) Brooks; METG Director of Environmental Programs Lauri J. Gorton; Pioneer Program Manager George A. Austiguy; Hydrometrics, Inc. Engineering Manager Mark Rhodes; Pioneer Vice President Tim Ranf; and ACEC Chairman Manish Kothari.
















Washington, DC (May 13, 2019) – Montana Environmental Trust Group, LLC (METG), as trustee of the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust, and its contractor Pioneer Technical Services, Inc., a Montana consulting engineering firm, received a 2019 national Grand Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for the Prickly Pear Creek realignment in East Helena, Montana. The project involved reconstructing more than a mile of Prickly Pear Creek  in order to reduce groundwater contamination and eliminate the potential for migration of contaminants.


“We are honored to receive this prestigious award from ACEC,” said Cindy Brooks, managing principal of METG and president of its parent company, Greenfield Environmental Trust Group, Inc. “We take pride in what our team has accomplished in East Helena, especially knowing that the creek realignment safeguards the community and its drinking water supply and environment and provides a natural resource that will benefit the community for generations.”

The project team excavated, dried and delivered nearly 1 million cubic yards of saturated reservoir sediments, slag and other materials to the East Helena Superfund Site. The project protects human health and the environment by permanently reducing groundwater contamination and isolating the massive, eroding, 16-million-ton slag pile on the East Helena Site without need for future pumping or maintenance. The work has established a natural-functioning stream, creating 50 acres of new wetlands, enhanced habitat for fish and wildlife, and 100 acres of new floodplain to mitigate downstream flooding.

METG and Pioneer Technical Services, of Helena, Montana, were honored, alongside 15 other national award winners (out of 200 applicants that won awards at the state level), at the ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in Washington, DC on May 7, 2019. METG’s national award follows the 2019 ACEC-Montana award that was presented to METG and Pioneer for engineering excellence in the environmental category for the Prickly Pear Creek project in November 2018. “It’s very humbling to win this award alongside these other amazing projects,” said Joel Gerhart, Vice President of Pioneer. “To be recognized as one of the best projects in the country that helped to advance the engineering profession to better serve public welfare and the environment is truly an honor.  And it was a privilege working with METG, the community of East Helena, and a host of other partners that together made this project possible.”

METG is the court-appointed trustee of the Montana Environmental Custodial Trust, which was established in 2009 as part of the ASARCO bankruptcy settlement. METG is responsible for owning, remediating and redeveloping thousands of acres once owned by ASARCO. For eight years, METG has worked to address soil, sediment and groundwater contamination left behind by more than a century of lead smelting.

Pioneer Technical Services, a nationally-recognized leader in performing environmental cleanup projects, is an engineering and environmental services company headquartered in Butte, MT with offices throughout the Intermountain West.

The Prickly Pear Creek realignment is a cornerstone of METG’s remediation and restoration efforts in East Helena. The creek realignment made immediate and lasting contributions to the Site cleanup and the East Helena community revitalization.

The project realigned a 1.25-mile stretch of stream away from contamination and was completed in four main phases of work. First, a bypass channel was created to temporarily divert the creek flow. The next phase included drainage and excavation of the creek, followed by reconstruction of the new creek bed and building an earth berm to stabilize the nearby eroding slag pile. Prickly Pear Creek flow was then diverted to the new creek bed. Lastly, the wetlands were reconstructed and the bypass channel was reclaimed.

The poster below summarizes the work.


Joel Gerhart, P.E., Pioneer Project Manager, (406) 490-2530, jgerhart@pioneer-technical.com

Cynthia Brooks, President/Trustee METG, (617) 448-9762, cb@g-etg.com – Award here.