Army's largest 2006 land transfer doubles size of national wildlife refuge
October 13, 2006
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (Army News Service, Oct. 13, 2006) - U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson joined Army officials today in celebrating the expansion of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, Colo.
"This is another important milestone in the successful clean up at the Arsenal, and an outstanding example of the partnerships that make the National Wildlife Refuge System one of our nation's most important conservation assets," Kempthorne said.
The refuge, which is located about 10 miles northeast of Denver, grew from 5,000 to more than 12,000 acres this fall, following the successful completion of the Army's largest land transfer in 2006. The refuge is home to more than 330 species of wildlife, including the American bald eagle, and includes important wetland and short-grass prairie habitat.
For the past 14 years, the Army has worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Shell Oil Co. to convert the Arsenal from an environmental clean-up site to a premier urban national wildlife refuge in the heart of Colorado.
"The Army is proud to turn this land over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to more than double the size of the urban refuge," said Tad Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health. "Together, the public and private sector have met the highest environmental and safety standards, and are giving this land back to the community as an asset for generations to enjoy."
The Army opened the Arsenal in 1942 to manufacture chemical weapons as a deterrent against the Japanese. The Army later leased facilities to private companies, such as Shell Oil Co., which produced agricultural chemicals at the site. Manufacturing stopped in the early 1980s, and the site was added to the EPA's Superfund list in 1987.
The refuge was officially established in 2004, after the EPA certified that the clean up of 5,000 acres of Arsenal land was complete and took the land off the Superfund list. The EPA recently approved removing another 7,000 acres from the list, which allowed the Army to transfer the land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage as part of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.
The $2.4 billion clean up of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal is almost two-thirds complete. By the time the work is finished, another 2,500 acres will be added to the refuge, which will make it one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the nation.