#ColoradoRiver Delta Flows Help Birds, Plants, Groundwater — @UofA #COriver

The "Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Interim Report," released by the International Boundary and Water Commission, documents the effects of the environmental flows in the delta from the initial release of a pulse of water from March 23 through May 18, 2014, plus subsequent supplemental deliveries of water through December 2015.
The “Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Interim Report,” released by the International Boundary and Water Commission, documents the effects of the environmental flows in the delta from the initial release of a pulse of water from March 23 through May 18, 2014, plus subsequent supplemental deliveries of water through December 2015.

Here’s the release from the University of Arizona (Mari N. Jensen):

Two growing seasons after the engineered spring flood of 2014, the delta’s birds, plants and groundwater continue to benefit, according to a report by a binational, UA-led team.

Two growing seasons after the engineered spring flood of the Colorado River Delta in 2014, the delta’s birds, plants and groundwater continue to benefit, according to the latest monitoring report prepared for the International Boundary and Water Commission by a binational, University of Arizona-led team.

“This short-term event has had lasting consequences. This really demonstrates that a little bit of water does a lot of environmental good,” said Karl W. Flessa, UA professor of geosciences and co-chief scientist of the Minute 319 monitoring team.

“Some of the cottonwoods that germinated during the initial pulse flow are now more than 10 feet tall,” Flessa said.

Martha Gomez-Sapiens, a monitoring team member and postdoctoral research associate in the UA Department of Geosciences, stands on a riverbank next to willows and cottonwoods that germinated as a result of the pulse flow. (Photo: Karl W. Flessa/UA Department of Geosciences)
Martha Gomez-Sapiens, a monitoring team member and postdoctoral research associate in the UA Department of Geosciences, stands on a riverbank next to willows and cottonwoods that germinated as a result of the pulse flow. (Photo: Karl W. Flessa/UA Department of Geosciences)

The “Minute 319 Colorado River Limitrophe and Delta Environmental Flows Monitoring Interim Report,” released by the International Boundary and Water Commission, documents the effects of the environmental flows in the delta from the initial release of a pulse of water from March 23 through May 18, 2014, plus subsequent supplemental deliveries of water through December 2015.

Minute 319 is the 2012 addition to the 1944 U.S.-Mexico Water Treaty that authorized environmental flows of water into the Colorado River Delta from 2013 to 2017.

Birdlife responded to the post-flood burgeoning of vegetation, and bird diversity is still higher than before, the monitoring team reports. Migratory waterbirds, nesting waterbirds and nesting riparian birds all increased in abundance.

Upstream dams and water diversions for farms and cities in both countries have dried up most of the river south of the border. With the exception of a few wet years, the river has not reached the Gulf of California since 1960.


“This is the first time environmental water has ever been delivered across an international boundary.” said Eloise Kendy, a senior freshwater scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s North America Water Program.

“The level of collaboration was really unprecedented — from two national governments to the individual farmers whose irrigation canals were used for some of the water deliveries,” she said. [ed. emphasis mine]

Flessa, Kendy and Karen Schlatter of Sonoran Institute compiled and edited the report on behalf of the binational partnership of many people and federal agencies, universities and non-governmental organizations that monitored the Colorado River Delta under Minute 319.

Some of the water from the pulse flow and subsequent smaller environmental flows recharged the groundwater, which had both ecological and social benefits, Kendy said. The vegetation greened up in areas that received surface water and also in some areas that did not.

“The farmers were happy because it recharged the aquifer they use for groundwater irrigation,” Kendy said. “And plants that were outside the inundation zone got a big drink of water.”

Before 1960, spring floods regularly roared down the Colorado River, scouring the river bottom and overtopping the bank, thereby creating the conditions necessary for cottonwood and willow trees to germinate and establish.

An invasive plant species known as salt cedar or tamarisk is now the dominant plant along the river. Cottonwoods and willows need bare ground and sunlight to germinate, so they cannot establish themselves on tamarisk-covered riverbanks, said Schlatter, a restoration ecologist of the Sonoran Institute’s Colorado River Delta Program.

The March 2014 pulse flow delivered a fraction of the water the pre-1960 spring floods delivered. People from Sonoran Institute and Pronatura Noroeste cleared some areas of non-native vegetation beforehand. The researchers hoped that reducing competition would allow native plants such as willows and cottonwoods to germinate and grow after the pulse flow.

“We mechanically cleared the tamarisk vegetation from the riverbank and old oxbows,” Schlatter said. “We reconnected the meanders to the main river channels so when the pulse flow came there were these nice backwater areas where the conditions were good for the establishment of native trees.”

Now in those restoration areas, cottonwood and willow seeds that germinated after the pulse flow have become trees 3 to 4 meters tall (10 to 13 feet), and bird diversity and abundance has increased, she said.

“Now we have diverse habitat types, including lagoons, cottonwoods-willow forest, mesquite bosque and marshes,” she said. “We are seeing a much higher diversity of riparian bird species in the restoration sites compared to other areas along the river.”

The abundance of 19 bird species of conservation concern, including vermillion flycatchers, hooded orioles and yellow-breasted chats, was 43 percent higher at the restoration sites than at other sites in the floodplain, the monitoring team found.

In addition, the pulse flow reduced soil salinity in some areas that had been targeted for restoration, Schlatter said. “We didn’t expect that — it is a huge bonus.”

Reducing the soil salinity makes conditions more favorable for native plant species.

If there’s another pulse flow, she suggests mechanically clearing tamarisk and other non-native vegetation from the river’s bank.

“We’re not going to get a huge flood on the Colorado River anymore,” Schlatter said. “If the flood isn’t going to provide the same ecological processes floods did in the past, we will have to have active management.”

Other UA members of the monitoring team are Ed Glenn of the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science and Martha Gomez-Sapiens and Hector Zamora of the UA Department of Geosciences.

The International Boundary and Water Commission in El Paso, Texas, funded the UA portion of the Minute 319 monitoring program.

Carlos de la Parra of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte is co-chief scientist of the Minute 319 monitoring team. Key contributors to the report include Osvel Hinojosa of Pronatura Noroeste, Jorge Ramírez and Jesus Eliana Rodriguez Burgueño of the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Francisco Zamora of Sonoran Institute, Jeffrey Kennedy of the U.S. Geological Survey and Dale Turner of The Nature Conservancy.

The Minute 319 monitoring team includes more than 21 scientists from universities, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations from both Mexico and the U.S., including El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, the Ensenada-based Pronatura Noroeste, The Nature Conservancy, the Tucson-based Sonoran Institute, the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, the University of Arizona, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Colorado River pulse flow (Minute 319) reaches the Sea of Cortez for the first time since 1998 on May 15, 2014 via the Sonoran Institute
Colorado River pulse flow (Minute 319) reaches the Sea of Cortez for the first time since 1998 on May 15, 2014 via the Sonoran Institute

La Plata County Open Space and Southwest Conversation Corps take the fight to Russian Olive trees

Russian Olive
Russian Olive

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

Two years ago, a partnership between La Plata County Open Space and Southwest Conversation Corps removed Russian Olive, along with two other invasive species – tamarisk and Siberian elm – from more than 300 acres of the Animas River valley.

However, lands targeted during that project focused only on property owners who had placed their land under a conservation easement. There remained the need to address other landowners in the valley, Mountain Studies Institute’s Amanda M. Kuenzi said.

As a result, MSI applied, and was awarded, a $195,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and an additional $52,000 from Colorado Parks and Wildlife for a three-year project to remove invasive plants from Bakers Bridge to the New Mexico line.

This week, crews from Southwest Conservation Corps embarked on the first leg of the project: a three-week effort on about 15 properties in the Animas Valley, including James Ranch and the Zink farm.

This fall’s removal, Kuenzi said, also serves as a pilot project aimed to garner interest from adjacent landowners.

“We really hope to get property owners who haven’t been involved to get aggressive on this,” Kuenzi said.

Kuenzi said because of diligent past efforts from Animas Valley landowners, as well as the city of Durango, among other entities, the presence of Russian olive and other invasive species isn’t nearly as problematic as in neighboring communities.

“If you go to Farmington, the Russian olive is wall to wall,” she said. “But we’ve worked on the problem here for decades, and that’s why our area isn’t overwhelmed. Still, we need to nip this problem in the bud so future generations don’t have to deal with it.”

Indeed, Cathy Metz, parks and recreation manager with the city of Durango, said the city has strategically fought Russian olive and other non-native plants on its property for years.

“We still have an ongoing monitoring situation, but we really don’t have many remaining on city property,” she said. “But certainly, we really advocate for collaborative effort to remove these species just because they are so invasive.”

Megan Graham, spokeswoman for La Plata County, said Russian olive is not on the list of weeds the county targets, but that the issue may be a topic of conversation later this month.

Russian olives are considered a “List B noxious weed,” which requires local governments to manage and limit their spread under Colorado state law.

Regardless, work carried out this week by Southwest Conservation Corp’s eight-person crew aims to cut down the plant. They then drop riparian-safe herbicide on the root so the plant doesn’t grow back.

“The hard part is really trying to spot all of them,” crew leader Alyssa Engdahl said while scouring the Zink property Wednesday. “And, of course, the thorns.”

The project next year will be four months, with the aim of extending into the Florida River watershed, a tributary of the Animas. The effort as a whole, Kuenzi said, largely depends on the community’s response.

“We really need all landowners’ participation to make this program a success and to ensure the health of our watershed for years to come,” she said.

Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan update

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

Several hundred public comments were received regarding a resource management plan for the Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Plan, U.S. Forest Service district ranger Matt Janowiak said Wednesday.

“This is one of the first NEPAs (National Environmental Policy Act) that I’ve been a part of where I’ve seen people really take the time and tell us what they think,” Janowiak said.

On Wednesday, Janowiak, along with Trout Unlimited’s Ty Churchwell and Trails 2000 executive director Mary Monroe, took a tour of the Hermosa Creek watershed with Republican Congressman Scott Tipton.

“The volume of public comments really speaks to how engaged this community is,” said Churchwell.

In 2014, after six years of negotiations, the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act was signed, a bipartisan effort that designated 37,400 acres as a wilderness area and 70,600 acres as a Special Management Area in the San Juan Mountains, north of Durango.

Lauded as a landmark collaborative victory, the Forest Service is drafting a management plan for the special-use area that would allow a range of recreational uses that include hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, ATV and other motorized use. A draft plan was released in July and comments were taken until Oct. 1…

The tour showcased the cutthroat reintroduction programs in the watershed that, once complete next year, will create the longest continuous stretch of cutthroat habitat in the United States, Churchwell said. The group also stopped at the facilities and campgrounds proposed for changes in the draft plan throughout Hermosa Creek, which Janowiak said is the second-most used area in the Forest Service’s Columbine District with thousands of visitors each year.

Janowiak said the Forest Service will review public comments and make any necessary changes to the environmental assessment, which will again be up for public comment in the spring.

Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout
Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout

Estes Park: Fish Creek restoration project

Fish Creek Road after September 2013 floods via YouTube.
Fish Creek Road after September 2013 floods via YouTube.

From the Estes Park Trail-Gazette (T.A. Rustin):

Students from Estes Park High School teamed up with ecology experts from the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition on Wednesday to help rebuild the ecosystem along lower Fish Creek. That area was devastated by the flood in 2013, washing away vegetation, eroding the banks, destroying the utility infrastructure, and damaging homes.

The Coalition has been working for the last year to restore areas damaged by the flood. They selected this area of Fish Creek as their first project, according to Molly Mills, Coordinator of the Coalition. Nearly a year ago, she met with Chuck Scott, principal of the high school, and asked if the Coalition could work on restoring the river banks adjoining school property.

“I asked him for permission to work on school property,” she recalled, “and he said, ‘Only if you involve the kids and make this a learning experience,'” said Mills.

Mills agreed at once to the plan, and she took the responsibility for securing grant funding and obtaining legal permission to work on the river banks. That required several months, since there are numerous overlapping jurisdictions involved in the Fish Creek watershed.

With guidance from teacher Alex Harris, the high school’s Environmental Club began planning and recruiting their classmates for this event. Mills did some training with the students, teaching them about riverine ecology, and the proper techniques for planting trees. The students in the club then created training materials for the student volunteers.

“This has been a student-run project the whole way,” said Mills. “I brought the idea to them, and the funding; they organized the volunteers, mapped it out, and got the logistical support.”


Beginning early in the morning on Wednesday, students transported plants and supplies in pickup trucks to three areas along Fish Creek. More than 300 students arrived and split into teams to get to work on the riverbank. They began by pulling and bagging noxious weeks that have proliferated since the flood. They also cleared the banks of accumulated flood debris and trash.

The Coalition brought in 3,000 trees, provided by the Colorado State Forest Service. The specific species had been selected by Mills in consultation with ecology experts. They included river birch, alder, chokecherry, and cottonwood. Mills’s ecology consultants marked the locations for each tree. Working in teams, the students dug holes, planted the trees, and carried buckets of water from Fish Creek to water them.

Nearly the entire student body has been involved in this project, including the Culinary Arts class, which planned and prepared lunch for the students, teachers and volunteers. Students in the Film Studies are making a documentary to tell the story of the project. The faculty and administrators also supported the project…

Randy Mandel, representing the Colorado Water Conservation Board, walked among the groups of students. A water and ecology specialist, Mandel explained to the students how their efforts would improve the watershed. Mandel noticed a student struggling with the root ball of a tree. He bent down and guided her in the proper technique.

Gary Miller, President of the Coalition, said that the flood impacted Fish Creek more severely than any other area in the Estes Valley, and therefore was chosen as the first project.

“The Coalition was formed to bring together organizations interested in sustainable restoration of the flood damaged areas,” he said. The Estes Valley has seen three 500 year floods since 1979, and Miler predicted that we should expect more in the future. “We need to be prepared for the next huge event,” he said. He pointed out that this project has served to educate the students about the broader problem of environmental disasters.

Mills said that this is the first phase of the revegetation of the Fish Creek watershed. The next phase will be putting up fencing around the young trees to encourage the elk and deer to browse elsewhere.

“Otherwise,” she said, “they will eat everything we’ve planted.”

In the next few months, the Coalition will be mulching the area and broadcasting native grass seeds to improve the ground cover.

Native Americans and Conservationists Collaborate to Return Vital Flow to the #RioGrande — National Geographic

Rio Grande and Pecos River basins
Rio Grande and Pecos River basins

From National Geographic (Sandra Postel):

The first time I saw the channel of the Rio Grande completely dry, I was stunned. Here was the second largest river in the Southwest, which flows through three U.S. states and Mexico, and instead of water between its banks there were tire tracks. And I wasn’t standing at the tail end of the river, but rather on a bridge in central New Mexico, in the Rio Grande’s middle reach. For a freshwater conservationist, it was a sad sight.

Even worse, it was not an aberration. Each year, portions of the Middle Rio Grande dry up when its flows are diverted into irrigation canals for delivery to farmers in the valley. A few miles of the channel might dry up for a couple of weeks, or, if the monsoon rains are disappointing and irrigation demands are high, the dry stretch might extend thirty or more miles for much of the summer. Either way, for a time the river is no more.

So earlier this year when I learned about an innovative idea spearheaded by Audubon New Mexico to return some flow to the Rio Grande at its driest time of year, I felt a surge of hope for the river and the life it supports—from native fish like the Rio Grande silvery minnow to birds like the Southwestern Willow flycatcher, both federally endangered and dependent on the Rio Grande for habitat.

Audubon New Mexico, a Santa Fe-based non-profit conservation organization, had reached out to Native American tribes in the Middle Rio Grande Valley with a proposition: if the tribes transfer to Audubon a portion of their allotted water from the San Juan-Chama diversion project, which brings New Mexico’s share of Colorado River water into the state, Audubon would ensure that the water benefits the Rio Grande and seek funding for habitat restoration on tribal lands.

The idea struck a positive chord with a number of the tribes, and a unique partnership was born. Two pueblos, Isleta and Sandia, decided to donate their water, while Cochiti and Santa Ana agreed to a transactional transfer. Before summer, the 400 acre-feet from the four tribes was augmented by a nearly equal donation of surplus water by the Club at Las Campanas, a private Santa Fe golf club, bringing the total volume of water to benefit the Rio Grande to nearly 800 acre-feet, or more than 260 million gallons (980 million liters).

“We will increase flow in the river channel for a 35-mile stretch for nearly 24 days,” said Julie Weinstein, Audubon New Mexico’s Executive Director, in a statement earlier this month. The organization worked closely with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to determine the best sites to deliver water back to the river to maximize ecological value.

The Rio Grande’s corridor through New Mexico supports over 200,000 waterfowl and 18,000 greater sandhill cranes. It provides the largest number of contiguous breeding territories for both the endangered flycatcher and the threatened Yellow-billed Cuckoo in their entire range.

With over 80 percent of the wetland and riparian habitat gone along the river in New Mexico, sustaining and rebuilding habitat is crucial. As part of this collaboration with Audubon, the Pueblo of Santa Ana is planting trees and restoring habitat along the river.

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow via Wikipedia
Rio Grande Silvery Minnow via Wikipedia

Hermosa Creek: Improved cutthroat trout habitat

Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout
Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout

From The Durango Herald (Pam Bond):

The San Juan National Forest hired Durango contractors G2 and AJ Construction to complete 500 feet of streambank stabilization in preparation for reintroduction of native Colorado River cutthroat on a stretch of the creek where non-native fish have been removed.

“It’s important to conduct these operations at times when we have low flows and no fish,” said Clay Kampf, fisheries biologist for the San Juan National Forest Columbine District. “We started at the headwaters of each tributary and worked our way downstream to make sure there were always other fishing opportunities.”

Under the direction of Kampf, Grady James, equipment operator with AJ Construction, spent September maneuvering rocks and logs into place to reinforce streambanks and create small waterfalls and deep pools. The goals were clean water and a diversity of habitat for all seasons.

“When the creek takes a corner, and an unstable bank erodes, sediment washes into the water and impacts the ability of fish to survive in many ways,” Kampf said. “Corners are high-stress points so we place large rocks there to protect the banks during higher flows.”

This fall’s water level was only about three to five cubic feet per second, which offered an opportune time to conduct improvements, but the project was designed for a wide diversity of flows. While spring flows of up to 40 to 50 cfs in the East Fork of Hermosa Creek threaten habitat by eroding the banks, very low flows in winter also endanger the fish.

“Keeping water moving in winter keeps it from freezing, which has been the biggest limiting factor for long-term cutthroat survival,” Kampf said. “Constricting the channel and creating small pour-overs increase the winter flow levels.”

Buried logs are effective for stabilizing banks where the stream splits and creates shallow stretches that offer spawning habitat in the spring. But where the creek had divided into multiple channels, rocks were used to divert water back into the main channel to keep flows steady.

Encouraging vegetation is also important for stream stabilization. When the heavy equipment scooped up grass and forbs to make way for placement of rocks and logs, its giant claw replanted the native vegetation with the skill of a seasoned gardener.

“We retain any disturbed vegetation and replant it nearby,” Kampf said. “We avoid disturbing any established willows, which in this stretch are about five to 10 years old.”

North American beaver (Castor canadensis)
North American beaver (Castor canadensis)

Kampf also hopes nature’s furry engineers will return to the area and help with recovery.

“There were beavers, but they moved upstream and downstream during disturbance from the project,” Kampf said. “If the beavers return and flood the area, they will create additional overwintering and larger pools for the cutthroat.”

The Forest Service will closely monitor the project area for three years, keeping an eye out for noxious weeds. Volunteers with the Durango Chapter of Trout Unlimited will help the agency later this fall to plant additional native grass and forb seeds and alder/willow cuttings along the banks to further revegetate the area.

“Our goals are to improve water quality and mimic natural features that will aid in the conservation of the Colorado River cutthroat, which will, in turn, improve recreational fishing,” Kampf said.

Proposed Hermosa Creek watershed protection area via The Durango Herald
Proposed Hermosa Creek watershed protection area via The Durango Herald

#AnimasRiver: Lackawanna Mill cleanup update

Silverton, Colo., lies an at elevation of 9,300 feet in San Juan County, and the Gold King Mine is more than 1,000 feet higher in the valley at the left side of the photo. Photo/Allen Best
Silverton, Colo., lies an at elevation of 9,300 feet in San Juan County, and the Gold King Mine is more than 1,000 feet higher in the valley at the left side of the photo. Photo/Allen Best

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

On Monday, a joint project between the Bureau of Land Management, the town of Silverton and volunteers from around the area hauled away the last metal debris around the Lackawanna Mill, a site just north of Silverton not included in the EPA’s Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund designation.

“While there’s still talk about how to deal with the big things, we’re looking around to see what are the little projects we can do that can have some punch,” said Lisa Richardson, a … technician for BLM.

The remediation of the Lackawanna Mill Site began in 1996 when crews removed piles of mine tailings that were dumped beside the Animas River when the mill operated from 1928 until it shut down sometime in the 1960s.

“The river was eroding into the tailings,” said Peter Butler, a coordinator with the Animas River Stakeholders Group. “Because it was right on the banks of the Animas it justified doing that.”

As a result, an area that once leached heavy metals into the Animas River is now a thriving wetland, home to several beaver ponds and prime habitat for riparian and avian life.

In 1999, the town of Silverton used a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to purchase about 26 acres for $110,000 with the intent of expanding Kendall Mountain Recreation area, which included part of the Lackawanna mill. The BLM also owns a portion of the land.

At the time, Silverton town officials proposed repurposing the historic mill into a space that would promote economic development and heritage tourism. Such ideas as a museum, artist residency, hotel and even an amphitheater were thrown into the mix. Lack of funding stalled the project.

However, last year life at the Lackawanna Mill seemed to reawaken. The town of Silverton launched a project to repair the building’s failing roof and other crumbling infrastructure.

“It (the damage) was significant,” said Chris George, parks, facilities and recreation coordinator for the town. “There were a lot of areas we couldn’t stand on until it was reinforced.”

The project, completed this year, didn’t address any of the structural needs inside the decrepit mill, George said. And many outstanding issues, such as utilities and access, remain a major obstacle to Lackawanna breathing new life.

“It would be an incredibly challenging job to make that a piece of economic return,” said town Administrator Bill Gardner. “Will it happen someday? I hope so. The dream is still there.”

Regardless, Richardson said removing the debris, which included rusty scrap metal, car parts, plywood and “just junk,” was significant both aesthetically – the mill is visible from town – and environmentally as the site is located above the wetlands and beaver ponds.

“It’s been used as a dumping site, so a lot of the junk is not associated with the mill, archaeologically speaking,” she said. “If we can, we want to keep those things on-site and put them in places where they won’t end up in the beaver ponds, which are really taking off.”

Richardson said the genesis of the debris cleanup day started when Outward Bound, an outdoor education program, approached the BLM with the idea of a community service project at Lackawanna.

Last year, a class of Outward Bound students built a temporary boardwalk across the wetland, allowing crews of mostly volunteers access to the mill site.

“All this volunteer work has led this project to cost almost nothing,” Richardson said.

Altruism is no stranger in the once-heavily mined San Juan Mountains around Silverton. The mining has impacted water quality in the Animas watershed since it started in the 1870s. For the past two decades, efforts to improve the watershed have been led by the Animas River Stakeholders Group, a coalition of mainly volunteers.

“If you add it all up over 20 years, there’s probably a million dollars of volunteer time from the stakeholders group,” Butler estimated, adding that the group has held similar community cleanup days.

“I think people really enjoy the beauty of the landscape around them, and this is something simple and easy they can do to try and improve environment.”

Despite the goodwill of countless individuals and organizations, the scope of hard-rock mining’s legacy around Silverton and the effects to downstream communities proved too large for a grass-roots movement to handle.

Last week, the EPA officially declared a number of mine sites responsible for degrading water quality as a Superfund site, thereby taking control of future cleanup efforts on a substantial portion of the district.

The EPA, for its part, has maintained in the year since one of its contracted crews triggered a massive blowout at the Gold King Mine that the agency will involve local entities as best it can.

Bill Simon, a retired co-founder of the stakeholders group credited with organizing countless cleanup days, said he’s not so much opposed to federal intervention as he is to losing community involvement.

“The advantage of doing that is you develop a sense of stewardship so that they care for what they’ve done and fully understand the consequences, environmentally, of extraction endeavors,” Simon said. “It gives an idea of the true cost.”

Next year, if the funds are available, Richardson said a project will aim at reseeding the grounds around Lackawanna. She hopes to draw out volunteers for that effort, too.