Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

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

May 12, 2009

Contact:  Laura Archuleta 719-655-6121

 

Proposed Actions to Address Contamination From the California Gulch Superfund Site Available for Public Comment

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the availability of the Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment (RP/EA) regarding proposed restoration actions within the Lake Fork watershed, a tributary to the Arkansas River.  The State of Colorado, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on behalf of the Department of the Interior, and are proposing these actions to address water and soil contamination from the California Gulch Superfund Site.

 

The proposed actions covered in this RP/EA outline projects that would be performed at abandoned mine locations in the Lake Fork watershed to improve surface and groundwater quality, and restore aquatic and terrestrial resources.  Specific projects include installing hydrologic and run-on controls at the Tiger Tunnel site to divert clean surface and shallow groundwater and installation of a bulkhead within the Dinero Tunnel  to improve surface and ground water quality.  The intent of these projects is to eliminate acid mine drainage pathways that impact natural resources.

 

The Tiger and Dinero Tunnel actions are proposed for implementation now because it is most cost-effective to conduct them in the near term. The Service and the State of Colorado are currently scoping further restoration projects with the public and those projects will also be funded by natural resource damages settlement monies. A comprehensive Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Upper Arkansas River Basin will be prepared addressing all future actions.

 

The Service is soliciting information from all interested parties regarding the draft RP/EA.  Written comments should be sent to Laura Archuleta, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Saguache Field Office, 46525 Highway 114, Saguache, CO 81149.  Comments may also be sent via electronic mail to Laura_Archuleta @fws.gov.  All comments and scientific information must be received by June 15, 2009.

 

Copies of the Draft RP/EA will be available for review at the Colorado Mountain College Library and the Lake County Library.  The draft document is also available on the Service’s web site at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/nrda/LeadvilleColo/CaliforniaGulch.htm

 

The 15 square mile California Gulch Superfund site is comprised of the town of Leadville, the adjacent mining district in Lake County, and the watershed of California Gulch which flows westward through Leadville to the Arkansas River.  Mining in the Leadville area began in 1859 when prospectors working in the channels of the Arkansas River tributaries discovered gold at the mouth of California Gulch. Wastes generated during the mining and ore processing activities contain naturally occurring chemicals at levels that pose a threat to the environment. These wastes remain on the land surface and migrate through the environment by washing into streams and leaching contaminants into surface water and groundwater.

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

 

-FWS-