Forest Service proposes final reclamation of Hope Mine near Aspen
ASPEN – The Forest Service is seeking public comment on proposed reclamation of the Hope Mine site in the Aspen Ranger District.The Hope Mine is a former silver mine along Castle Creek in Pitkin County, south of Aspen. In 2010, the Forest Service conducted a site assessment and confirmed the presence and release of hazardous materials from the site, including elevated levels of arsenic and lead, and surface water sampling confirmed trace levels of zinc from soil erosion. The Forest Service has determined that the hazardous materials pose a health risk to the general public and to the environment and is taking steps forward for final reclamation of this site.Since 2009, ongoing cleanup efforts at the Hope Mine have included asbestos abatement and the removal and disposal of unsafe structures and miscellaneous mine debris. In 2010, the Forest Service, working in partnership with For the Forest, and the Carbondale-based Flux Farm Foundation, began preliminary reclamation efforts. The efforts included the application of biochar – a carbon-rich product created when biomass is heated in a closed container with limited air – to the mine waste piles. The product was used to foster revegitation of the eroding waste pile, which slopes sharply to the creek.Since 2011, the Forest Service modified the stream bed and bank to stabilize and prevent the erosion of the mine waste pile into Castle Creek, and worked in partnership with the State of Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety, to conduct a dye tracer study to determine water flows from the mine site.The Forest Service has prepared a draft engineering evaluation/cost analysis for the Hope Mine, which lays out a preferred alternative. The administrative record for this response is at the Aspen Ranger Station at 806 W. Hallam St. in Aspen and is available for public inspection between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The documents are available online by going to http://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver. Navigate to “Land & Resources Management” and scroll down to “Project Spotlights” at the bottom of the page.The Forest Service will accept written comments for 30 calendar days from the date of the notice. Upon timely receipt of a request, the comment period will be extended 15 calendar days. The Forest Service will prepare a written response to significant comments.Questions concerning this proposed action should be directed to Scott Snelson, Aspen-Sopris district ranger, or David Francomb, Aspen-Sopris deputy district ranger, at 970-963-2266.
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