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Environment: Ongoing cleanup tackles toxic Peru Creek

July 30 site visit gives public a chance to see progress in $3 million remediation project at abandoned mine in Summit County

November snow and ice along the Snake River, in Summit County, Colorado.

Heavy metal pollution from upstream sources has killed most aquatic life in the Snake River, near Keystone, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

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Staff Report

FRISCO — With recent increases in levels of toxic metals in Peru Creek, the ongoing remediation work at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, near Keystone, Colo., takes on an even greater importance in the context of water quality in the Blue River Basin and the Upper Colorado.

The mine, which produced huge amounts of silver 100 years ago, has been pinpointed as one of the main sources of acid mine drainage. Water seeping through the rocky ground trickles into the old mine workings, picks up contaminants along the way, then percolates back into Peru Creek near the head of the beautiful alpine valley.

During the last couple of summers, scientists and engineers have been working to reduce the pollution, and this coming week (July 30) there will be a public field trip to the site, led by Jeff Graves of the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, as well as other members of the Snake River Task Force. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Snake River VII

Alpine streams


Near the headwater of Peru Creek, along the Continental Divide.

FRISCO — A little photographic jaunt through one of my favorite Colorado basins, the Snake River drainage, between Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. Summit Voice photography is for sale at our online Fine Art America gallery. Check it! Continue reading

Morning photo: Deep greens and blues …

Sunlight, ice, water …


A sunburst sunrise above Deer Creek, in Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — A Saturday morning sortie east of Keystone in the Snake River Basin yielded a few more decent images, with dappled and buttery sunlight contrasting with the deep shadows and rich blue-greens of the mountain streams. Continue reading

Colorado: Pennsylvania Mine cleanup set to begin

EPA removal action aims to reduce acid mine drainage at polluted site


The ruins of the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine.

USGS and EPA experts sample soils near the Pennsylvania Mine.

USGS and EPA experts sample soils near the Pennsylvania Mine.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After years of study, state and federal mine reclamation experts say they’re ready to try and reduce the amount of tainted water oozing out of the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, in Summit County, Colorado.

The old mining site high in the Peru Creek drainage above Keystone has been identified as a key source of toxic heavy metals that impair water quality for miles downstream. Concentrations of lead, cadmium, managanese and especially zinc exceed standards set to protect aquatic life in the stream.

The mine operated between 1879 and 1908, and intermittently through the 1940s, producing gold, silver, lead, copper and zinc. As water and oxygen interact with the highly mineralized rocks, so-called acid mine drainage forms, loading the stream with dissolved heavy metals. Continue reading

Morning photo: Winter faves

Spring is coming …


A fragile structure of inch-long hoar frost crystals grow in a shady spot along the shoreline of Dillon Reservoir on the north side of the Frisco Peninsula.

FRISCO —There may not be any wildflowers during winter in Summit County, but there’s no shortage of spectacular colors and textures, from gleaming ice to the warm tones of winter sunset and moonrise. With the impending change of seasons, I thought it was a good time to look back and choose a few of the all-time best winter landscapes. If you like what you see, visit our Summit County gallery online at FineArt America, where you can buy high quality prints or greeting cards. They make great gifts, and it’s one of the best ways to support our independent online journalism project.

A December full moon rises over the Continental Divide.

A December full moon rises over the Continental Divide.

Continue reading

Morning photo: The hand of man

Not all natural …


Buffalo Mountain from the Frisco Nordic Center at dawn.

FRISCO — As it started to get light Thursday morning I glanced out the kitchen window and noticed a thick layer of low-lying fog over part of Frisco Bay. That seemed a bit unusual since the reservoir has been frozen over for a few weeks, and the fog generally stops forming after the ice thickens up. So after getting my son off to school, I jumped in the car and headed up Highway 9 toward Breckenridge. It didn’t take long to discover the source of the fog. The snow-making machines at the Frisco Nordic Center and tubing hill were going all out, and with an atmospheric inversion in place, the frozen mists from the nozzles were being pushed down and out across the Reservoir. Continue reading

Morning photo: Meditation

Seeking balance …


A frozen beaver pond along the Snake River and the surrounding snowbanks show an astonishing variety of blue tones.

FRISCO — During the past few weeks photographing along the Snake River, I found myself thinking a lot about the balance between light and shadow, and even more, trying to balance the brilliant winter sunlight with the cool green and blue shadows of the forest. In part, it’s a question of timing; setting up in the right spot when there’s just enough half-light filtering in to show some detail. In other shots, I tried to play the light against the dark, creating drama and interest from the contrasts. Some shots work, some don’t but it’s always worth the effort.

This was the scene that really crystallized the idea of light and dark as the yin and yang of a photographic meditation.

This was the scene that really crystallized the idea of light and dark as the yin and yang of a photographic meditation.


The iPhone Instagram app helped add more contrast to this view.


A bit too much light on the foreground, with some of the details burned out, but the half-light on the shadowed creek has great depth.








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