Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes Response Action Maintenance Plan (RAMP)
The Response Action Maintenance Plan (RAMP) sets out the oversight and management activities of the state of Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe (Tribe), and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that the response actions conducted on the railroad right-of-way (ROW) formerly operated by Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and other railroads, which has been converted into a recreational trail known as the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes (Trail), are maintained and preserved to protect human health and the environment in a manner consistent with the Consent Decree (CD) between the state, Tribe, United States and UPRR entered by the U.S. District Court of Idaho on August 25, 2000.
The ROW is located in the northern panhandle of Idaho, extends approximately 73 miles and covers approximately 1,400 acres. The ROW begins near Plummer, Idaho on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation and continues upstream to Mullan, Idaho, running along the southern shoreline of Lake Coeur d'Alene and the mainstem and South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River.
The RAMP also includes institutional controls to monitor future construction activities on the ROW through training, permitting and licensing requirements. As between the governments, the RAMP provides continuity, coordination and cost-effective management of activities on the ROW.
The UPRR rail line was constructed in the late 1800s to serve the mining industry in the Silver Valley of Northern Idaho. When the rail line was built, mine waste rock and tailings containing heavy metals were used at some locations for the original rail bed. In addition, the ROW was contaminated by ore concentrate spillage and by the fluvial deposition of contaminated materials within the flood plain. The contaminants of concern include lead, arsenic, cadmium and zinc.
In 1991, the Tribe filed a Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit against UPRR to address releases of hazardous substances in the Coeur d'Alene basin, including contamination along the Wallace-Mullan Branch of the UPRR ROW. The Tribe’s lawsuit resulted in multi-year negotiations between the United States, the Tribe, the state, and UPRR which resulted in the entry of the CD between the parties in 2000.
The CD requires UPRR to conduct certain response activities on the ROW, including but not limited to certain contaminant removals, trail construction and maintenance and repair (M&R) activities to preserve the condition of the Trail. The CD also requires UPRR to transfer by quitclaim deed(s) all of its right, tile and interest in the ROW to the state and Tribe.
The CD also provides for operation and maintenance (O&M) to be performed or funded by the state and Tribe in connection with the ROW Trail. These O&M activities encompass all maintenance and repair activities in connection with the ROW Trail which are not specifically identified within the Statement of Work (Appendix G to the CD) as M&R activities for which UPRR is responsible. UPRR has established an escrow account for O&M activities. The Tribe and the state are required to use the monies from the escrow account to perform or fund O&M activities as provided by the State-Tribe Agreement.
Various response actions have been taken. Contaminant removals were conducted in specific areas of the ROW. After removal actions were conducted, protective barriers of asphalt, gravel, and vegetated soil were installed and serve as barriers against exposure to contaminants that were left in place. Institutional controls were also developed for those portions of the ROW where contaminants remain in place. Engineered institutional controls limit exposure to contaminants by encouraging trail users to utilize protected areas, such as stop and view areas and oases, and to prevent use of unprotected areas. These controls include signs, fences, gates, barricades, and hostile vegetation. Non-engineered institutional controls encourage proper use and access of the ROW through inspection, training and education programs, and permitting and licensing of work projects within the ROW.
Management of the ROW
The state of Idaho is the owner and primary manager of the Mullan through Harrison section of the ROW, which encompasses about 57.1 miles of asphalt trail. For this portion of the ROW, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is responsible for protecting human health and the environment and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) is responsible for general management and operation.
The Coeur d'Alene Tribe owns and is the primary manager of the Harrison through Plummer section of the ROW, which entails about 14.4 miles of asphalt trail. For this portion of the ROW, the Tribe Hazardous Waste Management Program (THWP) is responsible for protecting human health and the environment and the Tribe Recreation Management Program (TRMP) is responsible for general management and operation.
The approximately three miles of ROW passing through Heyburn Park is jointly owned and managed by the Tribe and state. Both the state and Tribe are responsible for implementing any RAMP oversight activities on this portion of the ROW. Joint management authority and activities are provided in the Heyburn Park ROW/Trail Long Term Management Plan and the Heyburn Park ROW/Trail Operations Plan.