An Innovative Partnership to Address Impacts from Colorado Legacy Mining:  
The Colorado Abandoned Mine Collaboration
Victor Ketellapper1*, Jeff Graves2, Lauren Duncan3, Jason Willis4, Robyn Blackburn5, Trez Skillern6, Skip Feeney7, Kyle Sandor8, Thomas Chapin9, Katie Walton Day10 and, Jean Wyatt11
1. US Environmental Protection Agency, Denver, CO,
2. Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, Denver, CO,
3. Trout Unlimited, Salida, CO,
4. Trout Unlimited, Nederland, CO,
5. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, CO,
6. US Forest Service, Boulder, CO,
8. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO,
9. US Geological Survey, Lakewood, CO, Lakewood, CO,
10. US Geological Survey, Lakewood, CO,
11. US Environmental Protection Agency, Denver, CO,
The Colorado Abandoned Mine Collaboration provides a forum for Federal, State, and local governments, non-profit organizations, and landowners to share expertise and pool resources (financial, staffing, expertise, technologies, etc.) which has resulted in the assessment and clean-up of abandoned mines that are adversely impacting Colorado lands and waters. Established in 2007, the group has successfully competed assessments and cleanup actions in 40 watersheds in Colorado.  This presentation will discuss the partnership, the technical approach, and the success of this collaboration.
The stakeholders who participate in any given project vary depending on location and interest.  For any given project, all stakeholders participate as equals and actively contribute.  Federal and State agencies involved in this collaboration include:  US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the US Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Geologic Survey, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.  Local participants include county and city government agencies, Trout Unlimited, and local watershed groups.
Background:  Mining in Colorado has played a pivotal role in the establishment of the state and its economic development.  Unfortunately, legacy mining has left denuded landscapes and contaminated rivers and streams across the state.  Although estimates vary, thousands of abandoned mines are located throughout the state.  Many of these abandoned mines are releasing metals and acidity to the surface water, impacting aquatic life and riparian areas in over 1,500 miles of streams and rivers in Colorado. These sites were mined and abandoned prior to enactment of environmental regulations. Thus, there is limited regulatory authority and funding to address the environmental impacts from historic mining.  
Differing and complex regulatory authorities and issues such as mixed federal and private ownership of mining impacted lands has fragmented regulatory responsibilities, impeding the ability of a single State or Federal Agency to implement comprehensive environmental assessments and clean-ups.  Furthermore, environmental liability concerns have prevented volunteers from taking action to manage contaminate releases from historic mines.
By pooling resources and working together, this group has cooperatively identified and prioritized abandoned mine sites observed to exhibit high potential to impact human and ecological health.  The contribution of technical and scientific skills combined with expertise in addressing governmental regulations and requirements has resulted in active assessment and cleanups of watersheds impacted by historic mining across the state of Colorado.  This collaboration has resulted in a model which encourages involvement of multiple local stakeholders with regulatory agencies. 
This group has effectively, efficiently, collaboratively, and cooperatively completed assessments of watersheds impacted by historic mining, prioritized cleanup actions, encouraged, and supported Good Samaritan mine reclamation projects, provided opportunities for stream restoration, completed cleanup actions, engaged multiple stakeholder involvement, and encouraged the use of sound science and engineering principles.