State: No further action needed to contain lead on Basalt shooting range |

State: No further action needed to contain lead on Basalt shooting range

Burned trees remaining from the Lake Christine Fire in July 2018 surround the Basalt Shooting Range on Thursday, May 28, 2020. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has added catch basins and a trench to capture storm water runoff and prevent lead from migrating off the site.
Aspen Times file

There is no evidence that lead-contaminated soil from the Basalt shooting range is migrating off the site and affecting surrounding land and water, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has concluded.

The agency notified Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which owns and operates the range, that no further action is needed to contain storm water runoff.

A flash flood in the Lake Christine Fire burn scar Aug. 4, 2019, raised concerns among some citizens that lead in soil and sediments at the shooting range was swept off the site and potentially polluting lands surrounding the range and reaching the Roaring Fork River. A complaint was filed with the public health department and CPW was required to hire a company to gather soil samples from the range.

A report from that company, Rare Earth Science, was submitted to the public health department in July.

“Based on the analytical results from the May 2020 sampling event and the implementation of storm water control measures, the Division hereby determines that no further action is necessary and closes out Spill Incident 2019-0444,” said a letter to CPW from the state public health department’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division.

Matt Yamashita, CPW area wildlife manager, said the agency added features after the flash flood to ensure water and sediments were captured. A catch basin and berm were added downslope of the shotgun range; a water diversion trench was built upslope of the entire facility.

The public shooting range has been used for decades at the site above Lake Christine, west of downtown Basalt.

“We know there’s lead there. There’s going to continue to be lead there,” Yamashita said.

Agency officials felt the site’s layout prevented lead from migrating. After the flood last August — when 1.5 inches of rain fell in a short amount of time on the southern section of Basalt Mountain — it decided to take the extra steps to divert runoff, with input from the state public health department. The testing verifies that the lead and materials from clay pigeons is captured on site, Yamashita said.

“We wanted to confirm that the lead that’s on site isn’t dissolving into the soils and wasn’t leaving the State Wildlife Area,” Yamashita said.

Basalt Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said the testing and analysis should “give some level of confidence” that lead isn’t polluting adjacent land and water.

The town’s water supply is above the shooting range, so there was not a concern that it was being polluted, Mahoney said.

“The thought that the lead had been transported off that property, in our discussions with CDPHE, seemed unlikely,” Mahoney said. “At the end of the day, it was a good news letter.”

Stacey Craft was among the Basalt citizens concerned about the lead migration. She said citizens contacted a professional shooting range lead-testing company in spring 2020 and they recommended that 22 soil samples be taken from the Basalt facility. The CPW contractor took between 10 and 12 samples in May, according to Yamashita. Craft said there is no comprehensive data on the contamination at the range.

In a statement, she said indicated ongoing concerns about lead being swept off the property.

“The August 2019 flash flood carried beach ball-sized rocks down the shotfall zone, destroyed the road and created 18-inch heaves in the pavement,” Craft wrote. “The flood carried visible shooting range debris like shotwads all the way to the banks of the Roaring Fork River. The lead-filled shotfall zone sits directly in the path of our largest flash flood zone, as indicated by flood maps posted on local government websites.”

Yamashita said the third-party tester took the samples from around the property in May. Analysis was slowed by the coronavirus pandemic because of different priorities by laboratories and the state health department, he said. CPW received the state public health department’s letter Aug. 21. A copy was provided to The Aspen Times.

“Based on the information contained in the report, the results indicate that neither total lead nor polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (from clay pigeons) have migrated offsite above residential/unrestricted standards,” the state public health department’s letter said. “As expected, data confirms elevated levels of lead in the shot fallout area. PAHs were found above residential standards near the flow line of Lucksinger Creek, south and southeast of the Roaring Fork Valley Sportsmen’s Association’s shotgun range. Target Fragments Sample and Runoff Material Sample 1 were the only two found to exceed standards for PAHs. These sample locations are well within property boundaries. All other sample results met residential unrestricted use standards.”

As long as the site is used as a shooting range, no further action needs to be taken, the agency concluded. If the shooting range is closed, the public health agency wants CPW to contact it to “ensure appropriate closure measures are implemented.”