Making a Difference in Communities: California Gulch Superfund Site, Leadville, Colorado

Making a Difference in Communities: California Gulch Superfund Site, Leadville, Colorado

[MUSIC PLAYING] [Narrator] Leadville, Colorado is home
to a nationally recognized recreational trail, a gold-
medal trout fishing stream, and a $1.1 million
sports complex. However, these amenities
were not always part of Leadville’s landscape. The town was part of
an 18-square-mile area of hazardous waste
contamination. A legacy of 140 years
of mining activities contaminated soil, surface
water, and sediments with heavy metals. High lead levels posed risks
in residential and commercial areas. Children, in particular, were
at risk for elevated blood lead levels. The environment suffered as
well, with acid-mine drainage taking a heavy toll
on the Arkansas River, destroying native vegetation
and wildlife habitat and threatening
downstream water supplies for recreation, livestock,
irrigation, and public drinking. The threat to human
health and the environment led EPA to designate the area as
the California Gulch Superfund Site in 1983. Cleanup activities have made
large portions of the site safe for reuse, allowing Leadville
to re-imagine its future. The community came together to
transform a portion of the site into a recreational
sports complex, amenities the community had
never had before. Across the country, EPA’s
Superfund cleanup activities have helped pave the way
for communities to reclaim and safely reuse
Superfund sites. [Peter Frykholm] Back in 2004, a number of
people in the community felt the frustration
that we lacked a community park or a
community field for our kids. Although the field
is the legacy here, the process as
well was something that we truly cherish because
it involved every public agency, every possible nonprofit on
the front range and locally to support, and as well as
the people of Leadville. Since the completion
of the field it has just transformed
what’s possible in Lake County and in Leadville in
terms of recreation, in terms of family
time together, and those are the things
that that truly warm my heart after all these years and
after all that hard work is just to come out here and
see how we turned something that was desolate and
barren into something that’s just truly wonderful
for the community of Leadville. [Narrator] Today, the Lake County Community
Park and Sports Complex is just one of Leadville’s
many recreational venues. The revitalized Arkansas
River is a gold-medal stream providing top notch
trout fishing. The Mineral Belt Trail loops
through the historic mining district, providing breathtaking
scenery and recreation opportunities for every season. Across the country, EPA’s
Superfund cleanup activities have helped pave the way
for communities to reclaim and safely reuse
Superfund sites. Superfund cleanups at
hazardous waste sites are making a visible
difference in the well-being and economic vitality of
communities across the country. [MUSIC PLAYING]

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *