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The original item was published from 5/30/2023 4:29:00 PM to 8/1/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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San Miguel County News

Posted on: May 30, 2023

[ARCHIVED] EPA awards $500,000 to county

Photo of historic Matterhorn mining mill site

EPA awards $500,000 to county

Brownfields Assessment grant targets historic sites, will fund clean-up efforts


Media Contact: Janet Kask, Parks & Open Space Director, 970-369-5469,

(May 30, 2023) – San Miguel County, CO --- San Miguel County has announced the award of $500,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up and revitalize historic properties in Norwood, Telluride and Ophir. The Brownfields Assessment Grant focuses on the Matterhorn Mill, but also offers the option to utilize funding for other historic sites within the County. The grant focuses on redevelopment planning, community engagement and returning historic sites to productive reuse/revitalization such as affordable housing and heritage tourism.

“We highlighted the need for affordable housing as part of our grant’s Outcomes and Benefits of Reuse Strategy,” explained County Parks & Open Space Director, Janet Kask. “Grant funding is earmarked for personnel costs, programmatic costs, inventory/outreach and area wide planning.” 

Kask submitted the grant request in November 2022. There is no match required as part of the terms for the award. The county has four years to apply the funding.

“The grant is applicable to multiple historic sites within the County, one site in particular is of utmost focus and that is the iconic Matterhorn Mill,” Kask said. “The Matterhorn Mill is one of the last historic mining structures still standing and the County has been working collaboratively to preserve its history and legacy. Preservation and protection of the Matterhorn Mill continues to be a priority for San Miguel County and the County is thankful to work with the U.S. Forest Service in pursuing conveyance of the structure and surrounding parcel to the County. Therefore, we look forward to its acquisition.”

In addition to the Matterhorn Mill, located south of Ophir on Highway 145, smaller mining facilities near Ophir, Ames and Telluride, including the Liberty Bell and Silver Bell Mines, the Pandora Mill/Mining Camp, and the Norwood Gas Station and automotive sites will be included as part of assessment efforts. High levels of metals in tailings, soils and waters exist at each of the sites, posing a risk to those who visit. Several potential sites, including the Matterhorn Mill and Silver Bell Mine near Ophir, are located near residential neighborhoods in rural communities where avalanche events and stormwater often transport old mine tailings into roads, drainage ditches and neighborhoods. 

“San Miguel County’s leaders are taking a systematic approach to prioritizing sites for cleanup and revitalization,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “These EPA funds will address contamination at key properties in communities like Norwood, Ophir and Telluride, and will pave the way for their safe and productive reuse.”  

The funds are part of the federal Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites (sites identified as being contaminated) while advancing environmental justice through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this is the largest ever funding awarded in the history of the EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs. The EPAs’ Brownfields program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse contaminated properties. 

EPA contact: Richard Mylott, 720-237-8119,

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