Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

February 12, 2009

Contacts:                 John Miesner, 785-539-3474, ext. 103 
                                  Gibran Suleiman, 785-539-3474, ext.114

 

 

APPROVAL OF THE CHEROKEE COUNTY RESTORATION PLAN/ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

AND FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

                             

The Kansas Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is announcing the approval and implementation of the Cherokee County Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment.  A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was approved by the Service.

Cherokee County, Kansas, is part of the Tri-State Mining District, which was mined extensively for lead, cadmium, and zinc for more than a century. As a consequence of these mining and mine-related activities, large amounts of metals were released into the Cherokee County environment. Lead, cadmium, and zinc are potentially toxic to a wide variety of organisms, including birds, mammals, fish, mussels, plants, and other biota.

Eagle-Picher Industries, Inc. (Eagle-Picher) and LTV Corporation (LTV) formerly owned and operated mines within Cherokee County, Kansas.  During the companies’ bankruptcy proceedings, the Service submitted claims for damages in compensation for mining-related injuries to natural resources.  Negotiations ensued, and the Department of the Interior eventually received an award from the two bankruptcy estates for use in restoring the area's natural resources.

A Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register on July 24, 2008.  Copies of the Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment were available for review at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kansas Ecological Services Field Office.  Copies were also made available at the Columbus, Baxter Springs, and Galena, Kansas, public libraries in Cherokee County.  Interested members of the public were invited to review and comment on the Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment.  A public meeting was held August 14, 2008 at the Baxter Springs, Kansas, Community Center.  The Service gave a presentation on the restoration alternatives, and a formal question-and-answer period followed.  The 30-day public comment period closed August 25, 2008.  Written comments were considered and addressed in the final RP/EA at the conclusion of the 30-day public comment period.  No comments were received that required substantive modification of the Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment.

The final restoration plan and FONSI are available on line at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/NRDA/CherCO_KS/CherokeeCounty.htm