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Holden Village, near Chelan, welcomes Forest Service decision

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Holden Village, near Chelan, welcomes Forest Service decision

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February 8, 2012

(Holden Village, WA) Directors at the popular North Cascades wilderness retreat center, Holden Village, welcomed the recent U.S. Forest Service Record of Decision (ROD), which clears the way for a major clean-up of decades-old mining wastes adjacent to the village.

Holden Village does not bear any financial responsibilities for the remediation,

but the project will impact the village’s program, noted Steph and Chuck Carpenter, the village’s wife and husband co-director team.

“Since the ROD is a complex, lengthy document, we are still reviewing it,” said Chuck

Carpenter, “but we are very happy that the decision has been made and the remediation process will move forward. Holden intends to fully support the mine remediation project, which addresses two of our core values – ecology and stewardship of this beautiful yet fragile alpine valley.”

Steph Carpenter noted that the village is in the midst of planning an especially celebratory 2012 summer program, observing Holden’s 50th anniversary as a Lutheran retreat center. Limited remediation work will also be underway during the summer, but major construction is not scheduled until 2013.

The Forest Service, which released the ROD Jan. 27, has described this as the largest and most complex mine cleanup project within the national forest system. Holden Village is located on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. It draws up to 7,000 visitors who travel by boat up Lake Chelan annually to participate in the village’s year-around programs. That number of guests will necessarily be reduced in 2013-14, which are expected to be peak construction periods when the village will be filled with hundreds of workers.

“The Holden Village mission is to welcome all people, whether it’s our traditional guests or remediation workers,” said Steph Carpenter.

The village also intends to use this “unusual time” to make improvements to its own infrastructure and facilities, said Chuck Carpenter. This may include expansion of the village’s limited hydro-electric system, water mains and building improvements within the federally-mandated restrictions covering historic sites.

The village was originally constructed to house mine workers during mining operations from 1938 to 1957. The mine abruptly closed when profitability of copper mining declined, leaving behind 300,000 cubic yards of waste rock and about 8.5 million tons of mine tailings covering about 90 acres. Another issue is toxic water seeping from the mine cavity into Railroad Creek, which drains into Lake Chelan.

Holden Village has operated since 1962 as a non-profit Lutheran retreat center open to people of all faiths. As remediation work accelerates, Holden will offer off-site events and various ways for long-time constituents and visitors to remain in touch and involved with the village, said the Carpenters. More information is available on the village Web site at www.holdenvillage.org.

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