Thursday, December 13, 2012

Updated information on Good Samaritan policy that will limit liability for Good Samaritans improving water quality at draining abandoned mines is now on the EPA web site (cut/paste below):


Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan Initiative is an Agency-wide initiative to accelerate restoration of watersheds and fisheries threatened by abandoned hard rock mine runoff by encouraging voluntary cleanups by parties that do not own the property and are not responsible for the property's environmental conditions. The Good Samaritan administrative CERCLA tools were issued on June 6, 2007. The tools are a model comfort letter and a model settlement agreement (an administrative order on consent or "AOC"). The Agency also issued a memorandum to EPA Regions in 2007, describing the purpose and intended use of the tools.
On December 12, 2012, EPA issued a memorandum to its regional offices that encourages cleanup activities at hard rock abandoned mine sites. The memorandum is intended to reduce the perceived Clean Water Act legal vulnerability faced by "Good Samaritans" who want to clean up their communities. There are hundreds of thousands of abandoned mine sites across the nation and many pose serious health, safety, and environmental hazards. Many community organizations have been looking at opportunities to clean up these sites and EPA's memorandum clarifies that these "Good Samaritans," or non-liable parties, who volunteer to clean up these abandoned sites are generally not responsible for obtaining a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) both during and following a successful cleanup.

Where to find more information:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wow! A present for the Holidays! EPA issues Good Samaritan policy this morning!

The need for clear policy to allow bona-fide Good Samaritans with no connection to past mining activity at abandoned mines to improve water quality where mine waters are draining acidic and/or potentially toxic waters has been an on-going need for almost 40 years.

This morning the EPA released information about a new agency policy that should encourage greater Good Samaritan hard rock mine cleanups. 

Here is the press release from Senator Udall's office.  The new policy guidance can be found at this link:

More information may be posted by the EPA on their web site in the near future.

Thanks to all of my colleagues and those who have been on the front lines of this issue for so long.  This is going to open opportunities for improved water quality in the San Juan Mountains and across the country.

Thanks to Senators Mark Udall, Michael Bennett and Barbara Boxer and their staff for working on this issue.   Thanks to the EPA and Director Lisa Jackson for moving this issue toward resolution.

From Senator Udall's Office:
December 12, 2012

Udall’s Leadership Leads to New Policy to Help Good Samaritans Clean Abandoned Mine Sites
Udall’s Longtime Efforts, Outreach to EPA Led to New Policy

Mark Udall thanked the Environmental Protection Agency for standing with him and Good Samaritans today by issuing a new policy to give groups additional protections as they help clean up the more than 7,000 abandoned hard rock mine sites located in Colorado and thousands more throughout the West. Today’s announcement follows more than decade’s work on Udall’s part to unleash the power of local groups and volunteers who want to help clean up old mine site.

"This new policy, which follows a multiyear effort I led, is welcome news for my constituents and Good Samaritans everywhere. Abandoned mines in Colorado and across the West threaten our waterways and the environment," Udall said. "I am glad the EPA has partnered with me to develop this policy, which will free up Good Samaritans – like Trout Unlimited, the Animas River Stakeholders Group and the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee – to help protect our streams, waterways and drinking supplies. We still have work to do to address these abandoned mines, but this is a welcome step in the right direction that will unleash the power of local groups and volunteers."

Specifically, the policy clarifies that:

  • Good Samaritan agreements with EPA can include extended time periods for monitoring or other activities, thereby extending the legal liability protections contained in the agreement; and,
  • Good Samaritans are generally not responsible for obtaining a Clean Water Act permit during or after a successful cleanup conducted according to a Good Samaritan agreement with EPA.

"I commend the EPA and Administrator Lisa Jackson for joining with me to leverage the resources of groups committed to cleaning up abandoned mine pollution. This policy clearly demonstrates their desire to protect Western watersheds. I look forward to working with Good Samaritans to evaluate the effectiveness of these clarifications and determine if other improvements are needed," Udall said. "In the meantime, I plan to continue to work to secure additional federal funds for mine reclamation and the cleanup of abandoned mines."

"Abandoned mines represent the single-greatest, least-understood threat to clean water and fish in the West," said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. "The otherwise outstanding laws of our land, the Clean Water Act and Superfund, actually prevent third parties — Good Samaritans — from entering into cleanup projects because of the liability risks they place on would be helpers, such as Trout Unlimited. Today we commend EPA for taking this important step to provide appropriate protection for Good Samaritans, and we applaud Sen. Udall’s efforts to get this problem fixed."

Udall, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been one of the leading voices in Congress on cleaning up and remediating abandon mine sites since he joined Congress in 1999. The EPA’s memo stems from Udall’s work over the past two years to find a way to give Good Samaritans additional protections as they continue their important work.

Udall also recently visited a mine site in San Juan County to hear about how additional legal certainty for Good Samaritans would help local groups remediate mines.

Last month Udall implored the U.S. House of Representatives to take up the legislation he co-sponsored that will allow Colorado and other states more flexibility in utilizing federal funds to clean up abandoned hard rock mining sites. The legislation, S.897, would allow states like Colorado to use funds that were previously only available for the reclamation of coal mines to be used for hard rock mines as well.

Please contact Mike Saccone at 202-224-4334.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankyou! We succeeded together!

Thank you to my supporters & contributors. We did it! The election night tally was 1,655 to 1,512! Wow, I am blown away by the turn out for our celebration party on Nov. 9 before the movie High Ground. (If you missed the movie, it is about wounded veterans trying to heal from PTSD and other injuries, there is a copy at the Ridgway Library.)

How much coffee does it take to win an election?
Thanks Cutler for demonstrating!

Thank you all!

I wish to say thank you to all of the Ouray County voters who voted in the 2012 election. To my supporters, thank you. I am truly honored to have been selected to serve Ouray County for a second term as county commissioner. To everyone, I want nothing more than to find ways to work together, because we all love Ouray County and we all want the best for our communities, land, water and livelihoods.

A strong democracy cannot exist without having informed and engaged citizens. Democracy also cannot exist without having multiple candidates come forward to provide open dialogue on policies and issues to give voters choices. I wish to thank my opponent Jack Flowers for being willing to step forward as a candidate. He is a good man and neighbor. Our race was tough, and I appreciate that we were able to have positive campaigns centered on the issues. I sincerely hope Jack continues to be interested and will be active in county government.

No candidate runs without a lot of support, help and sacrifice from family members and volunteers. I want to thank my husband Jeff and our kids for handling the extra stress and challenges of this campaign year with unending grace and understanding. Many thanks also go to the volunteers who opened their homes and businesses and contributed with their hands, minds, and hearts.

Last, I wish to thank the Plaindealer and Watch newspaper owners and staff for providing thorough coverage of our local government affairs and of this election. Having a good, local, fair, free press is an amenity that I think we sometimes take for granted. To have reporters posting returns, taking statements, and writing articles at the midnight hour shows their dedication to our communities and county.

I encourage anyone with a county-matter on their mind to email me, call me, or stop by my office at 380 W. Sherman in the Lupita's building.

Sincerely, Lynn Padgett
970-258-0836 |

Plaindealer Election night statement
The Watch Interview

I am recycling plastic campaign yard signs for a woodshop insulation project and for making holiday gift boxes (and anything else we think of).  Please drop my yard signs off at my office or call me and I will pick them up.  The wire frames can be recycled at Recla Metals, so please return those too.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Public Info about the Tire Flood Incident


The Public Hearing Scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled.  Here is the revised agenda for the tire matter:  1:30pm (4H Event Center) -- The Public Hearings that were scheduled have been cancelled as adjudicatory hearings, and the BOCC will consider a proposed settlement agreement to resolve the county’s claims under the Rubbish Ordinance and the Solid Wastes Disposal Sites and Facilities Act. Public comment may
be taken, but will be limited to discussion of the proposed settlement agreement. Action may be taken by the Board on this item.
Public Hearing – Notice and Order to Show Cause concerning Removal of Rubbish: (This hearing was continued from July 24, 2012 to August 14, 2012.) Cancelled
Public Hearing – Notice of Violation pursuant to C.R.S. § 30-20-100 et, seq., the Solid Wastes Disposal Sites and Facilities Act: Cancelled

Disclaimer -- I have tried to include everything I know of in the public record. However, due to numerous correspondence between different attorneys and the volume of information, it is possible something may have been inadvertently missed.

Web Sites:

Photos from August 5, 2011 Ouray County Plaindealer, used with permission.
Photo from September 22, 2011 Ouray County Plaindealer, used with permission. Original source: CDPHE.

Newspaper Articles:

  • Sep 22, 2011: State requests cleanup, by Jessi Marlatt(Ouray County Plaindealer) -- "Gunn and Maynes told authorities from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment and the Ouray County Sheriff's Department during a site inspection on Aug. 12 that Maynes (owner of Maynes Tire in Montrose) has been supplying Gunn with tires for erosion mitigation at his property for roughly 15 year. They estimated roughly 4,000 tires remain on the property."
  • Oct 20, 2011: Army investigates Unc tires, by Jessi Marlatt(Ouray County Plaindealer) -- "According to the letter from the DA: 'Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires a DA permit to be obtained prior to the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. Since a DA permit has not been issued authorizing this discharge, the work appears to be in violation of the Clean Water Act."

Ouray County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Meeting Minutes:


Reports & Correspondence:

July 26, 2011 -- TIRE INCIDENT HAPPENS -- 1,000 or more waste tires are washed down aver 14 miles of Burro Cr, Cow Cr, and Uncompahgre River waterways from source on an Ouray County private property.

Photos (click on any photo to see an enlargement):

July 26, 2011, Tires and debris photographed on the Uncompahgre River near Buckhorn Road (photos courtesy of RIGGS):

November 2011, UWP volunteers spend 50 hours on 2 days removing 48 tires from State land at Cow Creek (photos courtesy of UWP):

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & COUNTY FIRE RESTRICTIONS -- changes & updates effective 8/1/2012

Ouray County Fire Ban & Restrictions --

Due to additional significant recent rain and an increase in moisture within potential fuels, as well as Ouray County's desire to not burden residents and visitors with fire restrictions that are not absolutely necessary, all fire restrictions have been rescinded due to a decrease in fire hazard. This action was made at the recommendation of the Ouray County Sheriff and is in sync with the actions of federal land management agencies and other nearby counties. The Board of County Commissioners had a special session on August 1st and unanimously passed Resolution 2012-022: "Fire Restrictions Removal".

Certain NON-agricultural controlled burns are still regulated by Ordinance 2012-01: "Open Burning Notification For Slash". In 2012, a new Colorado state law and unfunded mandate required Ouray County to enact a slash burn notification system, but agricultural burns are specifically exempted.

Please also sign-up and check out:
Ouray County Target Notification Service (TNS) -- for all residents & property owners

Ouray County Wireless Emergency Notification Service (WENS) -- all residents & visitors

Ouray County web site

Log Hill Fire Department web site

Are you ready for an emergency?-- check out

Sunday, July 22, 2012

County Road 1 Escarpment Work Starts Monday 7/23

Work Starts on South County Road 1, Expect 30 Minute Delays Between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm -- revised construction schedule:

Just received this revised information about traffic control today, Thursday, August 9 --

The County Road 1 Escarpment Repair Project has been progressing ahead of schedule. Additionally, although traffic control delays can be up to 30 minutes, the contractor has had few delays of that extent with most being 10 minutes or less. The latest estimated schedule is as follows:

Friday August 10                          Expect 2 separate one-way traffic zones. Delays will be 10-30 minutes; During 30 minute delays, traffic will be allowed through on the half hour (8:00, 8:30, 9:00, etc.)

Mon. Aug. 13 - Tues. Aug. 14      Expect 2 separate one-way traffic zones. Delays will be 15-30 minutes; During 30 minute delays, traffic will be allowed through on the half hour (8:00, 8:30, 9:00, etc.)

Wed. Aug 15 – Friday Aug. 17    Expect short delays of 5-15 minutes. If longer delays are necessary due to unforeseen circumstances, traffic will be allowed through on the half hour (8:00, 8:30, 9:00, etc.)

Mon. August 20 – Thurs. Aug. 24 Delays will be 15-30 minutes; During 30 minute delays, traffic will be allowed through on the half hour (8:00, 8:30, 9:00, etc.)

Please be aware that the above estimated schedule may vary due to weather conditions, and other circumstances outside the contractor’s control.

Please drive carefully and obey all posted speed limits and cautionary signs. At times there may be severe bumps and asphalt drop-offs.

Schedule updated Monday, July 23 -- 
Mon 7/23-Tues 7/24:  Mobilize equipment, layout materials, saw asphalt
Wed 7/25 - Fri 8/17: Install culverts, repair drainages, replace asphalt on cuts
Wed 8/15-Fri 8/31: Patch and crack seal asphalt
Mon 9/3-Mon 9/10:  Chip seal

Diagram by Ouray County Commissioner Lynn Padgett showing the approximately 2.17-mile section of the County Road 1 to receive repairs.
The Ouray County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) placed repairs to culverts and slumping "soft spots" on the south side of County Road 1, known as the "Escarpment" section on our priority list.  In 2011 we worked on the dangerous and expensive potholes on the north side of CR1.  In 2012 we scoped work on the potholes and slumps of the escarpment area on the south side of CR1.  The issues on CR1 are due to substandard or failing base material that is exacerbated by moisture penetrating the road base and causing cave-ins and other issues.

County Road & Bridge Department worked with County Engineer Bill "Frowny" Frownfelter of Russell Engineering to develop a work plan that includes replacement of 6 culverts and 9 soft spots in early 2012.  The entire 2.17 miles will be chip sealed and crack sealed.  (Detailed drawings on aerial photos can be downloaded HERE.)

In order to get the original bid cost of traffic control down lowered by $44,000, the county took on the task of contracting for traffic control separately rather than to include traffic control costs in the road work bid award.  To keep these costs down as low as possible and to accomplish the work as quickly as possible, including giving the best odds of finishing as soon as possible, hopefully prior to the first day of school on August 27, the BOCC agreed to having both lanes of the road closed.  One lane will open for traffic at 30 minute intervals, anticipated to be at the top and bottom of each hour, throughout the 10 hour work day.  Two lanes will be open during non-work hours, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 am.  Emergency vehicles will be able to get through the work area at all times.  This arrangement will cut the need to 2 additional traffic controllers.

Mobile signs warning of work and traffic disruptions have been placed on the south and north ends of County Road 1 as well as near the project area.

Funds for this project would come from those already budgeted for the project from the Log Hill Bond and Interest Fund and from the Road and Bridge Paving Maintenance Reserve and Sales Tax funds. E.C.O.'s contract totals $362,332.12.  The contract for traffic control is for up to $24,335, from Sir StripeALot.  The actual cost for traffic control will be for time and materials.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

27th SOW, Cannon Air Force Base terminates the low altitude training area environmental analysis (9/2011 EA)

On June 21 the U.S. Air Force issued this press release regarding the proposed Low Altitude Tactical Navigation (LATN) aka Low Altitude Training Area (LATA) for Colorado and New Mexico:

Press release: Air Force terminates low altitude training area environmental analysis
Published: Thursday, June 21st, 2012 
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M.  -- Air Force Special Operations Command leadership concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) could not be reached through the current Environmental Assessment (EA) of the 27th Special Operations Wing's Low Altitude Training Area proposal currently under review.

Leadership anticipated that the No Action Alternative presented in the LATA proposal would not meet the wing's training requirements. Subsequently, the current EA action will be terminated and the Air Force will conduct a deeper analysis on a broader scope of wing training requirements.

"After careful evaluation, it became clear that a Finding of No Significant Impact could not be reached for this EA and still accomplish all of the training critical for our special operations forces," said Brig. Gen. Michael Kingsley, AFSOC vice commander.

The decision to terminate the current EA was influenced by the limited scope of the proposal; the valuable comments received from the public, agencies and other interested parties; and the existing need to supplement portions of the Beddown Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) at Cannon AFB, said Kingsley.
The wing, however, continues to have a requirement to train aircrews in low altitude flying. Currently this is being accomplished through the use of established Military Training Routes, Special Use Airspace, Visual Flight Rules, and excess capacity from other bases. All of these methods adhere to FAA regulations and Air Force Instructions. However, they provide less than optimal training and will not be sufficient as Cannon continues to receive its full complement of aircraft, expected to be complete in 2017.

"We still need to conduct flying training missions." said Col. Buck Elton, 27 SOW commander. "The wing operates nine different types of aircraft, each with unique training requirements. We are now conducting a complete review of all of our training needs, including, but not limited to, low altitude flying."

The requirement to assess the impact of low-altitude training, which drove the LATA EA, now overlaps with the Air Force's responsibility to assess additional training needs that were not fully known or entirely addressed during the initial Cannon Beddown EIS and Record of Decision in 2007, including requirements learned from recent operations. Fiscal realities and Air Force guidance indicate a transition to a more comprehensive analysis of the alternatives available to meet Cannon's training requirements would be wise.
Currently, the 27th Special Operations Wing is refining its flying training requirements. When these requirements are fully defined, the Air Force will follow the implementing regulations prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to determine the appropriate action.

"The NEPA process helps us make well-informed environmental decisions. We intend to fully define our training requirements, and then take the most appropriate action to meet those requirements," said Elton.
These fully defined training requirements may require more detailed environmental impact analysis and may lead to preparation of an EIS. The Air Force expects to make this determination in early 2013.
"We will find the best way to achieve our critical training objectives while remaining good neighbors to the people of Colorado and New Mexico and good stewards of our environment," said Kingsley.
While this is good news for those who took the position that a serious and accurate analysis of potential impacts and appropriate mitigation measures was needed before the Air Force moved forward with the proposal, it is unfortunate this Press Release was not directly emailed to those who took the time to submit written and oral comments.  
On June 11th, 2012, (before the above press release was ever issued) I was made aware by reporter, about the Denver Post article that stated that the LATN proposal had been "postponed indefinitely".  After reading the June 5th Denver Post article (CLICK HERE), I went to the Cannon Air Force Base web site.  From the June 5th press release Cannon Air Force Base had posted on their web site,  there was nothing that said the Air Force was postponing indefinitely -- just that they were reevaluating their training needs and would make a decision on whether a more detailed study was needed in early 2013.   Here is what I wrote to that reporter on the night of June 11th, 2012: 
"From the 6/5/2012 Cannon Air Force Base announcement on its web site, the Air Force says that it is reevaluating training requirements from lessons learned in Afghanistan and from a 2007 report that appears to contribute to “emerging training requirements”  that will lead to “refining” special operations flying training requirements. 

The 6/5/2012 Cannon web site post goes on to say that the Air Force expects to finish the refinements to training requirements and then make a determination in “early 2013” about what an appropriate environmental analysis for the low-altitude training requirements might be. 

In 2010-2012, Ouray County and myself [see the LATN tab at the top of this blog] went on record asking for a detailed analysis to identify potential impacts that may exist for ranching, recreation, game and sensitive species, potential to trigger avalanche, medical and emergency response, and other community concerns.  There were shortcomings in the September 2011 Environmental Assessment document.  The 2011 EA fell short of the accuracy in baseline information about the communities and landscapes it was going to be flying over, and thus could not be trusted to identify proactive mitigation measures.

Based on the information released by the Air Force this week [June 5th], it seems that a 6-month or so step back will be helpful for them to focus on what is best for training our military.  Personally, I believe that our military should be the best trained military in the world.  I also believe that training needs to be conducted to ensure the safety of not only those in flight, but also those on the ground.  It also needs to be respectful of people’s livelihoods and the character of the landscape.  Hopefully, this action by the Air Force leads a level of analysis of future low-altitude activities equivalent to an Environmental Impact Statement.  The best odds of having potential impacts appropriately mitigated exist if the affected communities and landscapes are correctly identified and a thorough analysis based on accurate data is conducted. 
However, now from finding the June 21 Cannon Air Force Base press release, it does seem very clear that the Air Force took the substantial public comments into consideration and recognizes the deficiencies in the 2011 Environmental Assessment.  I really appreciate the straightforwardness of this latest press release and the Air Force's commitment to balancing training needs, environmental health, and the health, safety, and welfare of the people living under a proposed LATA.  Our democracy could not exist without those dedicated to protecting and serving the American people.
Cannon Air Force Base appears to have taken down most of the LATN/LATA materials from their web site, but the Sept. 2011 EA is still available along with the June 21st press release.   To keep up with this topic, you and I will need to keep visiting for the most up-to-date information.