Natural Resource Management Student Internship Program

Natural Resource Management students at CMC gain experience by working for governmental and private clients

The Natural Resource Management Student Internship (NRMI) program at Colorado Mountain College serves the environmental assessment needs of a variety of governmental and private clients. Much of this work is completed near the Timberline Campus in Leadville, but several projects are currently underway in other parts of Colorado. These environmental assessment and remediation projects are completed by staff and student interns. Following is a list of projects recently completed or underway.

Current Natural Resource Management Student Internship Projects   (Past Projects follow below)

US Forest Service Abandoned Mine Lands (2008 to present)

The CMC NRM program will be assisting the US Forest Service Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program with Preliminary Assessment (PA) and Site Investigation (SI) activities on AML sites in the central Colorado Rockies.

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Dinero (Sugarloaf) Wetland and Sugarloaf Gulch Characterization (2009)

The following characterization activities, spearheaded by the CMC Natural Resource Management Internship program, will provide the Lake Fork (of the Arkansas River) Watershed Working Group (LFWWG) additional information related water quality issues within the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River watershed. In addition, the proposed work will allow students in the Colorado Mountain College Natural Resource Management Student Internship program to work on projects that will provide them with valuable hands-on experience vital to their academic career. These activities are also essential for future remedial activities related to the extensive mine workings and waste found throughout Sugarloaf Mountain.

The Scope of Work will include the following characterization activities to take place during summer/early fall of 2009 by the Colorado Mountain College Natural Resource Management Student Internship program. Sugarloaf and Little Sugarloaf Gulches will undergo extensive hydrologic investigation activities to determine heavy metals loading into the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River as a result of Acid Rock Drainage from mine waste piles located in their upper reaches. This activity is essential for determining the source of heavy contamination as a result of mine waste piles in Sugarloaf and Little Sugarloaf Gulches. The other part of this SOW includes a detailed chemical, physical, and biological characterization of the Dinero (Sugarloaf) Wetlands. Activities associated with the Dinero Wetland Characterization include soil sampling, groundwater monitoring and sampling, groundwater tracer testing, and biological evaluation of the project site. Results of both projects will be summarized in a final report for the LFWWG before the end of the year.

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Colorado Gulch Restoration (2001 to present)
The Lake Fork Watershed Working Group (LFWWG), Trout Unlimited, and NRM are initiating multiple projects with the overall goal of restoring aquatic and terrestrial systems in Colorado Gulch and its tributaries. These projects consist of mine waste removal, passive treatment system construction, and hydrologic controls to address significant AMD originating from Colorado Gulch. The Colorado Gulch restoration projects are enabling students to develop a wide variety of research and restoration skills by performing characterization essential in mine reclamation, wetland delineation, environmental remediation and site monitoring. NRM students have participated in a majority of the Colorado Gulch restoration efforts since its implementation in 2001. Students perform essential tasks such as ongoing monitoring of water quality and aquatic wildlife in Colorado Gulch and its tributaries where they perform stream flow measurements, collect water quality and aquatic biota samples. In addition, NRM students perform a variety of hands-on reclamation work (revegetation, erosion control, etc.) essential for the success of the Colorado Gulch restoration effort.

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California Gulch Superfund (2000 to present)
The California Gulch Superfund site is operated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The site was put on the National Priorities List by the EPA in 1983.  This project is an extensive effort to clean up and restore soil and water that was contaminated by over 100 years of mining activities in the Leadville area. The California Gulch Superfund project is separated into Operable Units (OU) that are designated to address each area by the type of contamination and Potential Responsible Parties (PRP’s). NRM’s involvement in the California Superfund project began in 2000 as an opportunity to provide students access to extensive surface water, ground water, soil, and vegetation sampling and monitoring. NRM students have participated in a majority of California Gulch Superfund monitoring and characterization efforts since 2000 and continue to assist with essential tasks such as ongoing monitoring of water quality and aquatic wildlife where they perform stream flow measurements, collect water quality and aquatic biota samples. Download California Gulch Superfund (PDF).

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Lake Fork Watershed Working Group (LFWWG) Coordination (2000 – present)
The Lake Fork Watershed Working Group was formed in 2000 to address water quality issues that are a result of historic mining activity in the Lake Fork Watershed. Active members include representatives from CMC, US BLM, US EPA, USGS, USFWS, USFS, CDOW, Trout Unlimited, CDRMS, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, landowners and citizens. NRMI staff and NRM faculty facilitate meetings that are necessary to communicate project activities in the Lake Fork Watershed among the LFWWG members and Lake County citizens. The Lake Fork Watershed Working Group is the impetus behind work in the Lake Fork.  Several large-scale water quality projects have been completed in the watershed and there are more projects planned in the future.  The Watershed Group’s primary goals are to address mining related contamination and prioritization of reclamation efforts, TMDL implementation, road erosion, land status, forestry, soils, recreation, and water uses. Download Lake Fork Watershed Restoration (PDF).

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Rocky Mountain Fen Research Project (2005 – present)
The Rocky Mountain Fen Research Project (RMFRP) is a study designed to explore innovative approaches to mitigating impacts to mountain fens.  A fen is a special type of wetland.  Impacts to fens cannot be satisfactorily mitigated according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  The City of Aurora Utilities Department and the Board of Water Works of Pueblo partnered with the NRM program to develop a research project to investigate potential means of successfully mitigating fen impacts. The project is ad
ministered and facilitated by the NRMI staff with a technical team overseeing the development of the project.  The technical team includes a fen expert, a hydrologist/water rights engineer and a remediation construction representative as well as members from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency and NRM.  This study will bolster the scientific knowledge of fen mitigation on many fronts including restoration, enhancement and transplantation.  Many of the components of the project will be applicable not just to fen impact mitigation, but to compensatory mitigation in general, thus increasing the significance of the project. Download Rocky Mountain Fen Research Project (PDF).

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Past Natural Resource Management Student Internship Projects

Garfield County Air Quality Monitoring Program
This project was initiated in the spring of 2005 due to the rapid growth and development of natural gas drilling and exploration in Garfield County, Colorado. Partnering with Garfield County and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, CMC NRM provided field sampling, and other support for the project from spring of 2005 to December 2007.  Seven fixed monitoring locations within Garfield County, stretching from Parachute to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, were monitored based on a standardized EPA schedule.  Students gained valuable hands on experience with air quality monitoring equipment and protocols including sampling for airborne particulates, sampling for volatile organic compounds, and maintaining important meteorological equipment.

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USFWS Baseline Ecosystem Evaluation
The NRMI was tasked to reconstruct the baseline ecosystem status of the Leadville and 11-mile reach component of the Arkansas River to a time period prior to mining disturbance.  A myriad of data collection efforts was relied upon due to the lack of written records kept during that time period. These included interviews with area residents who have knowledge of the history of the area; review and evaluation of any literature sources; and review and evaluation of historic photographs. Due to the lack of written and photographic records, inferential methods such as extrapolating the possible vegetative assemblage based upon soils conditions and the comparable watershed (background comparison) method were also used. The results of this effort were used to determine suitable natural resource management goals required for the contaminated waste site cleanup designs. (Points of Contact: Laura Archuleta/USFWS).

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Evans Gulch Watershed Water Quality Investigation
NRMI staff and students assisted the US EPA on the Evans Gulch Watershed Water Quality Investigation.  The investigation included an evaluation of existing analytical data in order to identify all existing point and non-point sources of metals loading to the receiving drainages within the Evans Creek watershed system. A comprehensive surface water and sediment sampling program was also developed in order to definitively delineate the point and non-point sources of pollution to the watershed.

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OU 2 Monitoring and Site Closure
Several properties within the California Gulch Superfund Site have reached a Record of Decision (ROD) and a remedy is in place. As per the ROD, a 30-year monitoring and compliance effort is required. The students were responsible for conducting a baseline inventory of the remedy, and a quarterly evaluation of the remedy’s integrity. In addition, they collected in-field data regarding the structural integrity, vegetative cover, level of disturbance, etc., and reported their findings to the EPA.

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Colorado Division of Wildlife/Colorado Division of Wildlife In-situ Bioassay Analysis of California Gulch
In order to determine the bioavailability of toxic metals within California Gulch, the CDOW conducted an in-situ bioassay analysis using both invertebrates and fish species. A portable bioassay assembly was installed adjacent to the gulch. On a daily basis water was cycled through the facility in order to replenish the exposure system for the fish. In addition, a series of caged systems were installed in order to measure real-time toxicity within the Arkansas River. The students were trained in order to complete the Ceriodaphnia testing. In addition, the students were responsible for water sample collection, water quality parameter measurements and consistent measurement of toxicity effects to the caged and bioassay exposure chamber animals.

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Cooperative Water Quality Evaluation of Lake Fork with Mesa State College and University of Colorado
Students assisted with the diel monitoring of contaminant concentrations within the Lake Fork. This effort was completed in order to determine the dissolved organic carbon effects to manganese bioavailability.

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EPA Emergency Response Team – L Series Evaluation
A series of remedial actions were implemented on the fluvial tailings deposition areas within the Arkansas River flood plain. As part of the evaluation to determine the integrity of the remediation effort, the students conducted both plant and invertebrate bioassay analysis to determine metals uptake and toxicity. In addition, a photo-documentation effort was completed in order to watch the progression of recovery after the remediation effort was in place.

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CWA Section 208 Point and Non-point Inventory Assessment for Lake, Chaffee, Fremont and Custer Counties
As part of the Section 208 within the Clean Water Act, each county is responsible for routinely updating the inventory and assessment of the point and non-point sources of pollution to the drinking water watershed. The students completed an inventory of the non-point sources associated with agricultural, mining, UST/LUST and industrial/residential land uses. In addition, NRMI staff completed the inventory and assessment report. This information was provided to County planners, Upper Arkansas River Watershed Council members, and decision makers in order to determine the next steps required for pollution source assessment and control.

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Summitville Snow Water Equivalent Sampling
NRMI staff and students conducted a snow water equivalent evaluation for the Summitville Superfund Site, in conjunction with Rocky Mountain Consultants. Project activities include the use of a Federal Snow Core Sampler, recording data in field notebooks, photo-documentation, and a data report.

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ASARCO Deep Well Monitoring
NRMI staff and students provided support in groundwater sampling and monitoring of several wells managed by ASARCO located in the California Gulch Superfund site.

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Bureau of Reclamation/Environmental Protection Agency Analysis of Groundwater Movement by the Use of Dye Tracers
NRMI staff and students assisted the US BOR and US EPA on a dye tracer study to investigate the groundwater hydrology within the California Gulch Superfund site.
NRMI students were responsible for the documentation of field procedures, quality assurance/quality control procedures, and health and safety procedures. They were then responsible for dye tracer sample collection, documentation, tracking and shipping.

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Climax Molybdenum Mine – Jones Pit Recla
mation

The NRMI students surveyed and designed a land rehabilitation project for a disturbed pit mine site at the Climax Molybdenum Mine. Their plan was accepted and implemented by the Climax Molybdenum Mine.

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USFWS Passerine Bird Study
The NRMI was responsible for the field support of sampling of passerine bird species in order to obtain blood samples for the analysis of enzyme inhibition. This was a direct measure of metals exposure and possible impacts attributable to mine-waste.

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Evans Gulch Feasibility Study
This project consisted of:
1) Parkville Water Supply – Control of contaminated run-on and run-off waters. It was demonstrated that features of the IBEX/IRENE mining complex would potentially contribute to metals loading within the potable water supply for the City of Leadville. Proactive design and engineering was implemented in order to control these features. NRMI staff and students provided assistance in the design hydrology aspects, as well as in the oversight of the project.
2) Access and Public Notice – NRMI was responsible for corresponding with all potentially affected landowners associated with the reengineering of the hydrology features to protect the potable water supply.
3) Cultural Resource Inventory and Impact Assessment – as part of the Historic Preservation Act requirements, any federal action requires an assessment of the cultural resources. Therefore, as part of the hydrology reengineering, the features that were within the footprint of disturbance were inventoried. NRMI was responsible for determining the impacts of the project to these features. They provided the necessary documentation and interpretation as required by the Colorado State Historical Preservation Organization.

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Environmental Protection Agency/Cultural Resources
NRMI staff were responsible for writing a professional report assessing the cultural resources within a proposed project area. Previously surveyed historical resources were identified and the project was created to have no adverse effect on these resources. The report was sent to the State Historic Preservation Officer for their approval of the project.

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USGS Salt Trace of Lake Fork
NRMI assisted the USGS in the evaluation of the fate and transport of metals through a salt tracer study within the Lake Fork Watershed. Students were responsible for field documentation, sample collection, and flow measurements in support of the effort.

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US EPA and USFWS Phase I and II Irrigated Meadows Forage Study
NRMI staff and students were responsible for the collection of randomly identified soils samples throughout the irrigated meadows area of the Arkansas River 11-mile reach. This effort was being conducted to determine the fate and transport of contaminates within irrigated meadows. It was hypothesized that irrigated waters may have been contaminated from the historic mining practices. The objectives of the study were to identify contaminated areas and then design a second phase investigation to determine impacts of the contamination to plant and soil invertebrates. NRMI collected the 124 soil samples which served the purpose of the Phase I effort.

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Environmental Protection Agency/Access Agreements
NRMI staff and students assisted the US EPA in delineating the footprint of the California Gulch Superfund Site remediation plan by investigating properties within the impacted area and compiling a list of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) and property owners. A mass mailing sent out to the PRPs and property owners by the EPA discussed the type of potential impact the work plan may have on the individual properties.

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OU 6 Groundwater Evaluation: Determine the Efficacy of OU 6 Water Routing to the LMDT
NRMI students and staff assisted the EPA by collecting all existing groundwater information in order to characterize ground water and determine its pathways of travel within the California Gulch Superfund site. This information consisted of dye trace studies, natural flow path studies of the LMDT, and existing data interpretation from previous studies. This information was used to help determine groundwater pathways throughout the California Gulch Superfund Site.

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CDPHE – Point of Compliance
Students in NRMI were responsible for measurements of three water quality parameters: pH, conductivity, and temperature, at eight different sites throughout Leadville, Colorado. The sites were measured four times daily; all data collected was transferred into the NRMI database, and was then e-mailed to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for interpretation.

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Rocky Mountain Consulting – Summitville
NRMI provided field support to Rocky Mountain Consulting for assistance in a sampling event. The project was located at the Summitville Mine and included 30 mines of the Alamosa River. In this situation, one NRMI student was assigned to assist RMC employees in surface water sampling, sediment sampling, and integrated depth sampling in two reservoirs. Along with that, water gauging stations along the Alamosa River were calibrated and maintained.

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Rocky Mountain Consulting Groundwater Sampling (CDPHE)
NRMI provided field support to Rocky Mountain Consulting for assistance in an annual ground water sampling event for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. This project involved sampling from over 40 wells in the Leadville Superfund Site. At the same time the student involved conducted a ground water extension to the dye tracer study using the same wells.

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Pueblo Board of Water Works
NRMI staff and students participated in the reestablishment of a riparian habitat along the east banks of Columbine Ditch in Lake County, Colorado. Columbine Ditch is the property of the Pueblo Board of Water Works. This ditch diverts water from the western slope over the divide into the Arkansas River watershed. The project required several students to transplant and water willows. Transplantation involved the clipping and bundling of willow branches that were later soaked for 48 hours and buried in the ground. Once they were planted, the willows were monitored, maintained, and watered three times a week.

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BLM – Fremont Pass Reclamation
NRMI was responsible for inventorying and evaluating the nature and extent of erosional sources
throughout the length of the closed portion of Fremont Pass for the Bureau of Land Management. These erosional zones had historically been contributing significant sedimentation to the Arkansas River headwaters area. NRMI surveyed and classified each erosional area by feature and also implemented a monitoring strategy. NRMI provided assistance with permit compliance and design strategies for the control of the erosional areas.  Currently, NRMI provides monitoring of the project through 2008.

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California Gulch Constructed Wetlands Treatment (Resurrection/Newmont and EPA)
Constructed wetlands are a relatively new technology in the treatment of acid mine drainage (AMD) treatment. Many studies have demonstrated this type of treatment system as an effective way to passively remove metals in contaminated waters. NRMI implemented a bench test to determine the effectiveness of constructed wetlands as a treatment alternative for the California Gulch Superfund Site. Although the constructed wetlands in California Gulch was not implemented, the data from this study has been used on other bench tests (Colorado Gulch) conducted by NRMI staff and students.

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Resurrection/Newmont Operable Unit 8 – Surface Water Sampling
NRMI assisted Resurrection/Newmont Mining Company on their annual surface water monitoring and sampling conducted throughout the Operable Unit 8 portion of the California Gulch Superfund Site.

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American Refinery Group – Wetlands Evaluation
NRMI was responsible for the assessment of past refinery waste disposal practice impacts to wetlands ecosystems within the Bradford Refinery Site property boundaries. Results were used for an evaluation of ecological risk.

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National Park Service – Great Sand Dunes Watershed Water Quality
NRMI conducted a watershed scale water quality investigation in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. NRMI complied data that were used in a professional report assessing the cultural resources within a proposed project area. Previously surveyed historical resources were identified and the project was created to have no adverse effect to these resources. The report was sent to the State Historic Preservation Officer for their approval of the project.

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Lake County Open Space Initiative Archaeological Inventory
NRMI students performed an archeological survey for the Lake County Open Space Initiative (LCOSI). The Hayden Meadows area, once a habitat for Ute Indians, was surveyed to determine preservation status before the deciding the final location of the proposed reservoir.

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Gypsum Ponds
The NRM program was awarded funds from the Eagle Mine Natural Resource Damage trust fund to assist the Colorado Division of Wildlife in the construction of wetlands and rehabilitating habitat in the Gypsum Ponds State Wildlife Area near Gypsum, CO. This project will allow students to participate in constructing multiple wetlands and their associated habitats in an area that receives constant usage from migratory waterfowl and other bird species. Additionally, students will assist CDOW in revegetation, erosion control, and noxious weed mitigation efforts in the Gypsum Ponds SWA.

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