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Camp Hale

NOTE: This website provides information on the history and on-going activities related to environmental issues at Camp Hale. For information regarding campgrounds and other access, please contact:

 

 

For more history of Camp Hale: 

 

 

Camp Hale was used as a military training site from 1942 to 1965. Both practice and live munitions were used in training. These munitions could still be present anywhere within the Camp Hale project area and potentially can cause injury or death if encountered and disturbed in a manner that causes the item to explode. It is estimated that up to 10% of the live munitions fired during training were "duds" that did not fire as designed. These munitions remain hazardous.

 

Training and practice munitions may also be hazardous. These munitions can contain a type of spotting charge that simulates explosive impact. The spotting charge can vary from a few grains of black powder to several pounds of high explosive. NEVER assume that "training" or "practice" means a munition item is safe to touch. Even the least sensitive items may explode if exposed to careless and improper handling.

 

It is important to remember that military munitions were designed to destroy military supplies and equipment, and to kill or maim people. Regardless of their age, munition items retain their hazardous and dangerous nature. Leave the handling of munitions to the trained experts who can assess the item and make the area safe.

Visitors to Camp Hale should be familiar with and strictly follow the safety precautions explained below while enjoying the National Forest areas within the Camp Hale boundaries.

 

3 "Rs" of Munitions Safety

  1. Recognize it:  Munitions come in many shapes and sizes

  • Some will look new while others will look old and rusty.

  • Some will look like bullets or bombs and can be small or large in size.

  • Some will look like metal pipes, soda cans, small balls or even an old car muffler.

 

81 mm mortar Tail Boom 3.5 inch rocket Smoke Grenade
81 mm Mortar Tail Boom 3.5" Rocket Smoke Grenade

 

  1. Retreat from it:  If you find something that could be a munition, leave it alone and leave the area.  It does not matter how old, rusty, new or shiny the item may look, munitions are dangerous and could injure or kill you.  Don't take any chances - leave it alone.
  1. Report it: If you find something that could be a munition, report what you saw and where you saw it to the U.S. Forest Service (970-827-5715) or Eagle County Sheriff's Department (970-328-8500).  Reporting it can save another person from injury or death.  Report anything you think could be a munition.

 

Camp Hale location map

Camp Hale was established in 1942 in west-central Colorado to provide winter and mountain warfare training during World War II. The site was acquired by purchase from private owners and by use permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. The living area (cantonment area) for Camp Hale was constructed in Eagle Park, east of Highway 24 between Leadville and Red Cliff, Colorado. The camp was established here because of the natural setting of a large, flat valley bottom, surrounded by steep hillsides suitable for training in skiing, rock climbing and cold weather survival skills. The size of Camp Hale varied between 5,000 and 247,243 acres when it was an active military installation.

 

From 1942 to 1965, Camp Hale was used to train the 10th Mountain Division, the 38th Regimental Combat Team, the 99th Infantry Battalion and soldiers from Fort Carson in mountain and winter warfare. The Army also tested a variety of weapons and equipment at the site. From 1959 through 1965, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secretly trained Tibetan soldiers at the installation. In July 1965, Camp Hale was deactivated and the Army returned control of the lands to the Forest Service in 1966.

 

The Camp Hale project site is administered under the Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program, which was formed as part of the 1986 amendment to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and assigned to the Department of Defense (DOD). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) administers the Formerly Used Defense Sites program for the Department of Defense. The Formerly Used Defense Sites program is designed to address risks to human health and the environment due to past military activities in an area. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed an Inventory Project Report on April 6, 1998 establishing Camp Hale as a Formerly Used Defense Site.

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE, Omaha District) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts the environmental cleanup work on former military land under the Formerly Used Defense Site program. The Omaha District has overall management, contractual and funding responsibility for cleanup activities at Camp Hale.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (Forest Service) - The Forest Service owns and manages the majority of the land within the Camp Hale Formerly Used Defense Site boundary.

  • Colorado Department of Public health and Environment - The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is responsible for regulatory oversight for the State of Colorado, ensuring compliance with all State laws and regulations.

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) - The U.S. EPA is the Federal regulatory agency ensuring compliance with all federal laws and regulations.

The currently defined project area is located on approximately 200,000 acres (or about 312 square miles) of the White River and San Isabel National Forests. The project site is located in Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Lake counties, between the towns of Red Cliff and Leadville, and extends from the eastern side of the Tenmile Range to the Mount of the Holy Cross. The majority of the land within the Camp Hale boundaries is managed by the Forest Service. There are some small private land holdings within the various National Forests where Camp Hale is located.

In 2008, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed a Site Investigation on 14 Munitions Response Areas (MRSs).

 

 

Remedial Investigation work is scheduled to begin during the summer of 2011, and due to Camp Hale's significant size and short summer season, will likely continue over a number of years. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the Department), the Corp of Engineers (the Corps), and the US Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the US Forest Service, are currently prioritizing area that will be investigated first based on a number of criteria, including public recreational use and planned Forest Service maintenance projects.

 

Interim Risk Management Plan (IRMP)

Because Remedial Investigations will continue over a number of years, the Department and the Corps developed an Interim Risk Management Plan to manage potential risks from public exposure to potentially explosive hazards throughout the Camp Hale area. The objective of the Plan is to enhance public safety by effectively managing potential risks from exposure to military munitions and explosives of concern until remedial actions are completed at Camp Hale. Key components of the Plan include:

 

  • Identifying locations and user activities warranting risk management

  • Informing users of the potential to encounter munitions and explosives of concern

  • Instructing users on how to respond if they encounter suspected items

  • Ensuring that a formal process is in place to respond to suspected items when they are found

The Administrative Record is the collection of documents the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses to make project-related decisions. An Administrative Record is kept in a centralized location(s) where the public can access, review and copy documents related to a response action. The Administrative Record for the Camp Hale Project is maintained throughout the life of the project and is located at the following locations:

 

Lake County Public Library

Reference Section

1115 Harrison Avenue

Leadville, CO 80461

Phone: (719) 486-0569

Hours:

Mon. to Wed. 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
  Tues. and Thurs. 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  Fri., Sat. and Sun. 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

 

U.S. Forest Service, Minturn Office

24747 US Highway 24

PO Box 190

Minturn, CO 81645

Phone: (970) 827-5715

Hours:          Mon. to Fri.              8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Not open on weekends

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District

Monique Farmer
Public Affairs Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District
106 South 15th Street
Omaha, NE  68102-1618
402-995-2420
Monique.L.Farmer@usace.army.mil

 

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Jeff Swanson
State Remedial Project Manager
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO  80246-1530
303-692-3416
1-888-569-1831 Ext. 3416

 

Jeannine Natterman

Public Involvement Coordinator

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO  80246-1530
303-692-3303
1-888-569-1831 Ext. 3303
jeannine.natterman@state.co.us