|Office of the Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2008
Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne Presents Milsap Mill Tailings Restoration Partnership in Colorado with Cooperative Conservation Award for Earth Day
WASHINGTON, D.C.— At a ceremony in the nation's capital today, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recognized the Milsap Mill Tailings Restoration Partnership as one of 21 recipients nationwide of the Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award.
The 21 awards recognized the work of more than 700 groups and individuals who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.
"These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our Department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence," Secretary Kempthorne said. "They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangelands and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation."
The award to the Milsap Mill Tailings Restoration Partnership recognizes the partnership's outstanding contributions to alleviating severe environmental harm caused by mine tailing runoff. The partnership has stabilized approximately 1 million cubic yards of mine tailings on a site covering approximately 60 acres of private and public lands within the Milsap Watershed in Colorado. The mine tailings were unstable and had become highly erosive, causing significant downstream damage to streams, streamside vegetation, and agricultural fields over the previous 80 years on both private and public lands.
These unstable tailings also caused large dust storms in the neighboring communities. An unexpected but highly beneficial partnership emerged with the Colorado Department of Corrections heavy equipment program. A ground crew consisting of 20 inmates was trained to operate heavy equipment, and the inmates subsequently provided extensive labor in support of the project. This was greeted with some skepticism in the area but, in time, celebrated as an historic achievement.
"The project took approximately six years to develop, with construction work commencing in June 2007, and resulted in movement of approximately 290,000 cubic yards of material," the award noted. "Project partners effectively leveraged shared costs, which likely would have been two or three times higher if not for the partnership effort."
The Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and Federal, State, local, and/or tribal governments.
"This is a fitting start to a week of Earth Day activities," the Secretary told the crowd at the main Interior auditorium. "If anyone were to ask me why America is the world leader in conservation of natural resources, I would simply point to the people in this auditorium. You are the spirit and you are the hands of cooperative conservation."
Milsap Mill Tailings Restoration Partnership (Colorado)
Bureau of Land Management, Royal Gorge Field Office