News Release August 30
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Pages: 1
Contact: Chris Wood 571-274-0601
Chris Hunt 208-406-9106
WASHINGTON—Trout Unlimited (TU), North America’s largest trout and salmon conservation organization, today announced a new effort to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restore abandoned hardrock mines that pose a threat to fisheries and community drinking water.
The EPA-named, Good Samaritan Initiative, is designed to facilitate clean-up of abandoned gold, silver, and other hardrock mines where there is no known potentially responsible party. Trout Unlimited, together with the EPA, is pioneering an innovative agreement as a tool to identify parties’ rights and responsibilities related to the voluntary clean up of abandoned mines and to protect the Good Samaritan against pre-existing liabilities.
According to EPA abandoned mines affect 40 percent of western headwater streams. Chris Wood, TU Vice President for Conservation Programs noted that “perceived concerns about liability have proven a disincentive for conservation organizations and local communities to work with EPA and other agencies such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to clean up abandoned mines.”
Today’s announcement makes clear that EPA is willing to help would-be Good Samaritans to make water cleaner and fisheries healthier without assuming overwhelming liability risks. “Never before has a conservation organization attempted this type of clean up. In the past, concerns over Superfund liability scared us all away. Our agreement with EPA should soften the ground for similar projects in dozens of western rivers and streams,” said Wood.
The EPA-TU partnership is modeled on a Trout Unlimited project in conjunction with Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, the Forest Service, and the Tiffany & Company Foundation to clean up American Fork Creek in Utah. The American Fork and its populations of Bonneville cutthroat trout were heavily impacted by mining nearly a century ago. Under the new agreement, TU will clean up the abandoned mines that pose the greatest risk to fisheries and water quality. The project is expected to cost approximately $300,000 and take two to three years.
“Acid mine drainage clean up is a dirty, unpopular job, but someone needs to do it,” said Wood. “The EPA deserves a lot of credit for thinking in new ways to address old problems. The American Fork will serve as a model that will spawn similar clean up efforts in communities across the West.”
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.