An emergency response action at the Telluride Valley Floor is being taken by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The action is within the floodplain of the San Miguel river just outside of Telluride. The effort by the EPA is in coordination with the United States Forest Service, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, Norwood Ranger District and will last about three weeks depending on weather conditions.
This action will address stabilization of tailings above the bridge at Boomerang Trail. EPA plans on further response action at this site in 2021 to address additional tailings downstream. EPA will be utilizing the contractor Environmental Restoration, with offices in Denver and Salt Lake City, for removal activities.
The site is approximately two acres, with the San Miguel River flowing east to west through the location. Fluvial mill tailings deposits exist within the floodplain of the San Miguel River. Mining for a variety of heavy metals occurred in the upper basins for over 100 years beginning in the 1860s. The fluvial tailings resulted from historical mineral processing operations upstream of the site. The tailings were transported by the San Miguel River and its tributaries during normal seasonal flow and flood events and deposited in downstream areas.
EPA expects minimal disruption to existing trails with potential rerouting around construction areas. Should this occur, there will be signage and personnel directing recreators around the work activities. Work will be done in the river so there may be a slight discoloration of the water due to heavy equipment. EPA will ensure precautions are taken to limit any disruption of the water for downstream users.