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Historic Buckley Field Arctic Training Center restored through cooperative effort in Echo Lake Mountain Park

Release Date: 12/5/2002
Contact Information:
(303) 312-6601

      One of Colorado’s notable scenic and historic areas, Echo Lake Mountain Park, was cleared of an environmental hazard this summer through a cooperative, multi-agency effort. In the shadow of Mt. Evans, workers investigated and remediated two World War II era dump sites within the Park, located 11 miles southwest of Idaho Springs and 47 miles west of Denver.

      The work was jointly carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the City and County of Denver, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A site investigation completed in 1996 indicated that the dump sites contained potentially hazardous substances including various petroleum chemicals and motor oil. The recent cleanup removed the sources of these substances, including all dump debris and suspected contaminated soil.

      “We appreciate the thorough effort by all agencies involved to investigate and remediate this site. Our work has reestablished the quality of the natural environment,” said Denver Mountain Parks Superintendent A.J. Tripp-Addison.

      Echo Lake Mountain Park is operated by the City and County of Denver, and is a popular recreational area for hiking and day trips. Forgotten by time, the dump sites were once part of the Buckley Field Arctic Training Center, which was used for training U.S. Air Corps personnel in 1943 and 1944.

      The abandoned dump sites consisted of two open dump areas totaling less than one acre, located several hundred yards downslope from a picnic area within the park. Although the dump sites were located in a heavily forested area, they remained easily accessible to hikers. For this reason, CDPHE asked that the Corps request funding to clean up the area using the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites.

      The field work took place from June 10 through September 10, 2002 and consisted of site mobilization and preparation; compaction and removal of trash, debris and suspected contaminated soils; sampling and analysis, loading and hauling materials to landfill; grading and backfilling; seeding; and site tear down and demobilization.

      Sample results indicate that all residual soil contaminants in the dump sites now fall below the level of concern based on State of Colorado soil cleanup criteria, or they correlate with area background levels. The agencies involved consider the cleanup of these historic dump sites a success.

      For more information on the Buckley Field Arctic Training Center environmental restoration in Echo Lake Mountain Park, please contact CDPHE Environmental Protection Specialist Ed LaRock at (303) 692-3324.