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The Forest Service is seeking public comments on proposed reclamation of the Butterfly and Burrell mine sites located on the Blanco Ranger District northeast of Meeker. The Butterfly and Burrell sites are former uranium mines located near Uranium Peak in Rio Blanco County. In 2005, the Forest Service conducted a site assessment and confirmed the presence and release of hazardous materials from the sites. Hazardous materials identified in soil analysis included elevated levels of arsenic and uranium. Surface water sampling below the mine sites confirmed elevated levels of uranium due to soil erosion. The Forest Service has determined these hazardous materials pose an unsafe human health risk to the general public and to the environment and is taking steps for final reclamation of this site.
Since 2005, ongoing cleanup efforts at the Butterfly and Burrell mine sites include asbestos abatement and the removal and disposal of former mining equipment, old structures and mine debris. In 2010, the Forest Service, working in partnership with the state of Colorado’s Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, constructed bat-friendly gates on open mine entrances to protect the bat population while keeping the public free from physical safety hazards inside the mine.
The Forest Service has prepared a draft engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) for the Butterfly and Burrell mine sites. The EE/CA describes the Forest Service’s preferred removal action of alternative 3 as well as other alternatives that were considered. The administrative record for this response is located at the Meeker Interagency Office at 220 E. Market Street in Meeker, Colo., and is available for public inspection during regular business hours. The documents may also be viewed on line by going to www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver. Navigate to Land and 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 this 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 Ken Coffin, Blanco District Ranger, (970) 878-4039.