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DEQ announces public survey; three open houses on potential health risks at Gilmore townsite 

March 17, 2023

Contact: Kevin Kostka, Preliminary Assessment Program Coordinator, 

LEMHI COUNTY — The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is announcing the launch of a public survey and three open houses regarding the presence of lead and arsenic in soils at the Gilmore townsite. 

The voluntary survey is intended for individuals who own, use, or have interest in Gilmore, Idaho, and will focus on metals contamination in soils at the site and its surrounding lands. Participants’ answers will help partnering agencies understand community interest in and concerns about health risks, current and future land uses, and potential cleanup activities. 

The survey will be available between March 24 and April 17, 2023, on DEQ’s website ( Participants can respond online, by mail, or over the phone. 

Partnering agencies are also hosting three open houses in eastern Idaho. Representatives from DEQ, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and federal agencies will be available to discuss Gilmore history, metals contamination, and health risks in and around the Gilmore site.  

The events are scheduled at the following locations and are free to the public. See DEQ’s Events web page for more information. 

  • Salmon, Idaho: March 27, 2023, 5 to 9 p.m. MDT, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Salmon Regional Office (99 US-93, Salmon, Idaho 83467) 
  • Leadore, Idaho: March 28, 2023, 5 to 9 p.m. MDT, Leadore Community Center (206 South Railroad Street, Leadore, Idaho 83464) 
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho: March 29, 2023, 5 to 9 p.m. MDT, DEQ Idaho Falls Regional Office (900 North Skyline Drive #B, Idaho Falls, Idaho, 83402) 


Lead contamination at Gilmore is the result of historic large-scale hard rock mining operations and wind and water erosion of mine waste. The mines on the hillsides above Gilmore operated in the early 1900s and primarily produced lead and silver ore. During the early years, processed ore was hauled over 80 miles via wagons pulled by horses or a steam-powered tractor. Later, ore was transported off the hillside by a half-mile long tramway that travelled through the townsite before emptying into waiting railroad cars. 

High concentrations of lead in the soil at the Gilmore townsite were found during DEQ sampling events in 2016 and 2017. At some locations, lead soil levels are more than 50 times greater than what is considered safe for residential areas. 

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