News Release

For Release: April 19, 2007     
Contact: Joan Moody, 202-208-6416

Department of the Interior Honors California BLM Abandoned Mine Lands Team

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett honored eight recipients of the 2006 Department of the Interior Environmental Achievement Awards in a ceremony at the Interior Building in Washington, DC.  The Secretary said the recipients are “role models for all Americans who want to celebrate Earth Day this week.”

The California BLM Abandoned Mine Lands Team was honored for the Boston Placer Mine Sluice Tunnel Remediation Project at Red Dog, CA.  Accepting the award for the team was John Key, state program lead for hazardous materials, abandoned mine lands and natural resource damage assessment and restoration.

The awards convey high-level recognition to DOI employees and partners for DOI projects in the following areas: waste and pollution prevention, recycling, green purchasing, environmental management systems, sustainable design/green building, and alternative fuel and fuel conservation in transportation.  A panel of experts from each Interior bureau recommended the awardees to their agency heads. More information on the awards can be found at

The Boston hydraulic gold mine sluice tunnel contained high concentrations of elemental and methyl mercury in the tunnel sediments.  The drain "sluice" tunnel discharged water and sediment onto adjoining U.S. Forest Service administered lands bordering Greenhorn Creek. Water and sediment sample results indicated high mercury contamination levels both in the 400-foot-long sluice tunnel and in the wetlands and reservoir area, which were created by a blockage at the inlet of the tunnel.

This remediation project was the first successful pilot mercury removal, recovery and recycling project undertaken in California. The Abandoned Mine Lands Team used innovative project remediation concepts during the engineering evaluation and cost analysis phase of the project and worked with team members to successfully implement and execute technological innovations and novel remediation solutions. By recovering and recycling the mercury, BLM preserved approximately one billion gallons of potential drinking water.

BLM acknowledged widespread support from interagency federal partners (U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), state partners (California Department of Conservation Abandoned Mine Land Unit, California State Water Control Board, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, and California Department of Fish and Game), local partners (Nevada County Department of Environmental Health, and Nevada County Resource Conservation District), and numerous private landowner watershed stakeholders.

The eight awardees are:

  • Dr. John Portnoy, ecologist - Herring River Salt Marsh Restoration, Cape Cod National Seashore, National Park Service
  • Students Against Global Abuse at Herndon High School (SAGA) partnership with Minerals Management Service
  • The California Bureau of Land Management Abandoned Mine Lands Team - Boston Placer Mine Sluice Tunnel Remediation Project, Red Dog, California
  • JW Dalton Legacy Well Cleanup Project Team, National Petroleum Reserve, Alaska, Bureau of Land Management
  • Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge "Green" Headquarters and Visitor Contact Station Team, Swanton, Vermont, Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Northeast Regional Office “Green” Team Hadley, Massachusetts, Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture, Planet EVERgreen: Protecting and Preserving "The Last Frontier," Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, National Park Service
  • Yellowstone National Park employees, Xanterra Yellowstone employees, Montana and Wyoming Departments of Environmental Quality, and Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, Environmental Stewardship at Yellowstone National Park and the greater Yellowstone area, Wyoming