Chalk Creek cleanup

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Here’s an update on the cleanup efforts on Chalk Creek and Pomeroy Gulch, from Susan Shampine writing for the Chaffee County Times. From the article:

The U.S. Forest Service held a public meeting Feb. 24 to explain their plans to reduce heavy metal contamination of Chalk Creek and Pomeroy Gulch in the Chalk Creek Mining District. About 25 members of the public and another 10 – 15 government employees and contractors attended the meeting held at the Sangre De Cristo Electric Association Headquarters. Cleanup of nine abandoned mining land sites (AML’s) near St. Elmo is scheduled to begin in June.

Most of the work to be accomplished this summer involves moving dirt – taking waste rock and burying it in lined holes, capping the filled holes with clean topsoil, then revegetating the disturbed areas. Other work will redirect surface water flows around tailing piles so it does not pick up further metals before reaching Chalk Creek and Pomeroy Gulch. Lastly, in some areas, where the tailing piles are very steep and the terrain difficult to work on, berms will be constructed below the base of the waste rock piles to reduce the movement of tailings…

The plan addresses nine abandoned mining sites, all within five miles of the former mining town of St. Elmo. The sites include the Stonewall Mine, Flora Bell Mine, Mary Murphy Mine, Chalk Creek Shaft, Chalk Creek North, St. Elmo Queen, Gold Dust, Lady Murphy, & Iron City Mill Tailings. All of the work will occur at these sites at elevations ranging from 10,000 to 11,400 feet.

One of the primary objectives of the work to be completed this summer is to reduce human and animal contact with metals contained in the waste rock at the mine sites. Other objectives include reducing leaching of metals from the waste piles into the groundwater and surface water, reducing or eliminating mine discharges into Chalk Creek and Pomeroy Gulch, reducing safety hazards at the mines, and meeting current laws and policies protecting the environment.

The plan identifies three phases of work. Phase one will be accomplished this summer as long as the funding lasts. According to John Neubert, Abandoned Mined Lands Coordinator for the Pike & San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron & Comanche National Grasslands, “I requested funding for this project several years ago, but higher priorities took precedence. This year we were fortunate to get about $500,000 to begin this project.” Phase One primarily addresses waste piles on Forest Service managed lands. Phase Two will address sites that have joint land ownership among the Forest Service, other government agencies and private citizens. This will require assistance from other sources. The third phase will concentrate on land in private ownership and will be managed by the State of Colorado…

For those wanting more information on the work scheduled for this summer, the EE/CA will be available to the public at the libraries. Further information can also be obtained by contacting the Salida Ranger District, 539-3591.

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