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Camp George West / Green Mountain

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department) is currently working with the Colorado Army National Guard to determine what, if any, risks might be posed to the public from past military activities at Camp George West and nearby Green Mountain west of Denver, Colorado. In early 2010, the Department was notified that a nearby resident found military munitions debris in a public recreational area on the north slopes of Green Mountain. Military munitions debris, such as that found on Green Mountain, can indicate the potential presence of other more dangerous munitions-related items that could be located in the same area. Some of these items have the potential for exploding if not handled properly. The area is heavily used by nearby residents and the public year-round for walking pets, running, hiking, biking, and numerous other outdoor activities. The Department is working with the Colorado Army National Guard to develop a plan for further investigating the area, and providing public education to protect users of this highly populated, high-use area.

 

Anyone finding an item they suspect could be munitions-related should consider the item to be extremely dangerous. Never touch, move, or disturb these items. Remember the three "Rs" of explosives safety:

 

  1. RECOGNIZE: Recognizing when you may have encountered a munition is key to reducing the risk of injury or death. If you encounter or suspect you have encountered a munition, consider it extremely dangerous. Remember, munitions are sometimes hard to see and identify. They may resemble a pointed pipe, a soda can, a baseball, a muffler, or other metal objects. They may be visible on the surface, buried, or exposed by erosion or fires; they may look new or old, be complete or in parts, be found alone or in groups. Any suspect items should be considered dangerous regardless of size or apparent age.

  2. RETREAT: If you encounter or suspect you have encountered a munition, do not touch, move, or disturb it. Immediately and carefully leave the area following the same path on which you entered the area. If you can, mark the general area - not the munition - in some manner (e.g., with a hat, piece of cloth, or tying a piece of plastic to a bush or tree branch).

  3. REPORT: Call 911 immediately!! Notify local law enforcement of what you saw and where you saw it.

 

If you or someone you know may have collected munitions-related items as souvenirs, please notify law enforcement immediately so trained professionals can remove the items safely.

View of Camp George

Camp George West is located near the junction of Colfax Avenue and Interstate 70, three miles east of the City of Golden, Colorado. It was founded in 1903 as the Colorado Army National Guard's permanent rifle range and training facility. An historic document indicates during the 1930's, the National Guard leased a portion of Green Mountain for use as an artillery impact area for rounds fired from Camp George West. The specific boundaries of the impact area are, as yet, undetermined. Recent finds of military munitions debris indicate that the historic impact area is likely on the north side of Green Mountain. The items found to date are mainly pieces of spent shells from the pre-World War II era.

 

On February 11, 1993, Camp George West was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historical district. Currently, the site occupies approximately 100 acres. Multiple users occupy the property, including the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Colorado Department of Transportation, and Colorado Correctional Center, as well as the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

 

William Frederick Hayden Park on Green Mountain is in Jefferson County and maintained by the City of Lakewood, Colorado. The terrain is a popular outdoor recreational area, with approximately 20 miles of trails.

Examples of unexploded ordinance found at Camp George

Military munitions used in training exercises during World War I and World War II sometimes failed to function as intended. Often referred to as "duds," "bombs," "dummy rounds," or other terms, these items today are defined as "unexploded ordnance" (UXO) because of their potential for exploding when improperly handled. These items come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can only be disposed of safely by trained Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) professionals. Over the years, users of the Green Mountain recreational area may have come into contact with items that they may not have recognized as military munitions or munitions-related debris. Until the area can be further evaluated to ensure public safety, the Department and Colorado Army National Guard want to provide the public an understanding of the potential presence of these items in the open space on Green Mountain, and the appropriate actions to take of they encounter something suspicious.  

 


Warning sign for hikers in Camp George

Camp George West and the open space on Green Mountain will be further investigated by the Colorado Army National Guard under the Army National Guard's Non-Department of Defense Owned Non-Operational Defense Site program, a nationwide program designed to identify former training areas where the Guard used munitions in training exercises. The program focuses on those areas used in training that were never owned by the Department of Defense. This is a relatively new program, and the Camp George West / Green Mountain site may be the first in the country evaluated under this program. The Department and Colorado Army National Guard are working closely with the City of Lakewood and other authorities to ensure close coordination in the evaluation and educational effort. The Department is requesting the Colorado Army National Guard to obtain funding as soon as possible to begin a preliminary investigation of the area to determine what, if any, further actions are required to ensure public safety over the long term. Educational efforts will continue to provide the public with information about munitions safety issues and actions individuals can take to protect themselves in the short term.

 

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Warren Smith

State Community Involvement Coordinator

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

4300 Cherry Creek Drive South

Denver, CO  80246-1530

303-692-3373

warren.smith@state.co.us

 

Colorado Army National Guard

Major Elena O'Bryan

Colorado Army National Guard Public Affairs

720-250-1050

elena.obryan@ang.af.mil