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Asbestos Mitigation Forces Camp Hale Shut Down

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A popular and historic place for camping and hunting in the mountains is now shut down because it’s contaminated with asbestos.

Camp Hale in Eagle County was a vital Army facility before World War II. It’s located along Highway 24 between Minturn and Leadville. A lot of buildings in the area were destroyed in the 1960s when Camp Hale was handed back over to the U.S. Forest Service.

For the better part of half a century the biggest problem has been trying to clean up munitions at the site. But for about the last 10 years the Army Corp of Engineers has been there removing asbestos containing material, but now the most recent discovery is of even greater public risk.

“This is because protection of public safety is our highest priority while we develop a long-term strategy,” Dave Neely with the U.S. Forest Service said. “As soon as we were informed there was a potential public safety risk we took immediate action to secure the site from public entry.

“One of the reasons we wanted to get public information out is because rifle season starts (Saturday) and there are a lot of people who will be arriving in order to hunt in those units in the hillside adjacent to Camp Hale.”

With many visitors still expected through the fall and winter, some parts of Camp Hale are completely closed. Other Forest Service roads are open beyond access to Camp Hale.

“While in the valley bottom, however, they need to stay on those roads and trails.”

The Army Corp of Engineers says there is not an inherent risk to those who have been to Camp Hale in the past, but mitigation of the asbestos is the top priority. The mitigation process is set to start next week.

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