Cleaning up a mine field

Pueblo Chieftain
Cleaning up old mining districts in Leadville has been a contentious issue in the community.An Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site was set up in California Gulch more than 20 years ago following releases of toxic metals that killed fish in an 18-mile reach of the Arkansas River. Issues with blockage in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Leadville Tunnel erupted two years ago, leading to a major drilling project to relieve pressure from water backed up in drain tunnels.

The goal of the Lake Fork group is to avoid the same sort of controversy over cleanup efforts by bringing agencies, landowners and environmental groups together, said Melissa Wolfe, another faculty member who works with the team.

“The outreach has been a challenge, but we’ve had good participation from the agencies that are involved,” Wolfe said.

 A core of landowners who helped form the working group are still active but do not attend meetings as often as in the past, said Cathy Patti, CMC contract administrator.

Federal agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, EPA, Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

State agencies include the Department of Public Health and Environment, Division of Wildlife and the Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety.

 Local government, landowners and Trout Unlimited are also connected to the process.