Friday, October 15, 2010


Completion of Refuge – End of All Major Environmental Cleanup Work...{Photo L to R: Past Commerce City Councilwomen Reba Drotar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Commerce City Mayor Pro Tem  Tracey Snyder}

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined the U.S.Army and Shell Oil Co. today, October 15, 2010, to celebrate the fulfillment of the vision of transforming the Rocky Mountain Arsenal into a premier urban national wildlife refuge. Today’s event marked the end of all the major environmental cleanup work at the site. The celebration also included the formal transfer of 2,500 acres of land from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bringing the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to its final size of more than 15,000 acres. The refuge is home to more than 330 species of wildlife, including bald eagles, deer, burrowing owls and wild bison. The project is the largest cleanup program that the Army has conducted to date. All field work of the clean up will conclude this fall, within budget and a year ahead of schedule. The total cost, shared by the Army and Shell, is $2.1 billion.
“With the successful completion of the vision to create a premier urban national wildlife refuge, a new chapter now begins,” said Secretary Salazar. “I commend the hard work by so many partners that led to this great achievement. This vital natural resource will provide a permanent safe haven for wildlife and offer many opportunities for people from all walks of life, especially our youth, to connect with nature in the heart of a large urban area.”

“The Rocky Mountain Arsenal has always been a place where history is made,” said Hew Wolfe, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health. “Even before it officially opened, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal played a historic role in the defense of our nation. As the United States prepared for war following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Army asked the families of a small community outside Denver to sacrifice their farms for their country. (The area east of present day Commerce City and Derby. Bounded by 56th Avenue, Buckley Road, 96th Avenue, Highway 2, and Quebec Parkway.) Standing here today, it is hard to understand the mood of the time, the urgency, fear and resolve that Americans felt. It is equally difficult to appreciate how much the homesteaders lost as they made way for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.”

Hew also said, “The Army constructed and opened the Arsenal within six months of the Pearl Harbor attacks, a full year ahead of schedule. Hitler had called America a “nation of softies” that would never match German manufacturing capabilities, but Arsenal workers proved him wrong. In the decades that followed, Army and civilian employees continued to manufacture weapons to defend our freedom. They produced munitions during the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts and answered President Kennedy’s call to win the race into space. Because of rocket fuel manufactured here, U.S. astronauts were first on the moon, reminding the Soviet Union that American power, ingenuity and determination were still a force in the world. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal has made history in peace as well as war.”

Secretary Salazar was joined by Hershell E. Wolfe, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health; Raymond T. Collins, General Manager for Shell Oil Downstream; U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter; John W. Suthers, Colorado Attorney General; Carol Rushin, EPA Deputy Regional Administrator; Howard Roitman, Acting Director of Environmental Programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Charles Scharmann, U.S. Army Program Manager for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal; Roger Shakely, Shell Oil Company Denver Site Project Manager at Rocky Mountain Arsenal; Steve Berendzen, Refuge Manager, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rocky Mountain Arsenal. Also in attendance were Commerce City Council Member Tracey Snyder (Mayor Pro Tem) and Rene Bullock and former Commerce City Mayor Protem and Council Member Reba Drotar and Adams County Commissioners Larry Pace and Skip Fisher.

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