Kate Holstein and Jamie Cundiff
Kate Holstein & Jamie Cundiff
Forest Program Directors, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
Hope Mine Site, near Aspen, CO
Kate Holstein and Jamie Cundiff are the Forest Program Directors at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES). Two years ago, they coordinated the cleanup of the Hope Mine, which was once a silver mine and lies on a slope above Castle Creek, Aspen’s primary water source. But the site remediation wasn’t carried out in a conventional manner. Instead, ACES used a pioneering technique that combines biochar (deadwood that has been heated in a low-oxygen environment to create a fine charcoal) with compost. When this mixture is spread on a mine site, the biochar functions as a magnet for toxins, locking them out of the reach of percolating water. Two years later, the effectiveness of this remediation technique is clear: where there was only rock debris two years ago, native grasses now grow. Kate and Jamie say that the project’s human component is complete: now nature will take over remediation.
By Jenni Doering