The U.S. Forest Service is moving 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from popular hiking trails near the Monte Cristo mine in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
The site was a gold dig area for decades starting in the early 1890s. Miners left waste rock behind, filled with high levels of arsenic and lead.
USFS received $11 million from a bankruptcy settlement to fund the project, which has drawn criticism. Some believe the landfill where the dirt is going to be stored has not been properly stabilized. It is also less than 200-feet from Glacier Creek and hiking trails.
The North Cascades Conservation Council sent a letter voicing their concern "about the contamination stirred up by the remediation work." The area is home to several ESA listed species, like the marbeled murrelet.
Project managers stand by the project, calling it a necessary project to protect the environment and human health.
Monte Cristo welcomes thousands of visitors each summer, but is currently closed for the clean-up. Crews have worked hard to preserve the history of the area, leaving archaeological ruins intact.
The site should open by next spring.