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Skamania County Selected for $300,000 in Brownfields Assessment Grants

Program helps return blighted properties to productive reuse

05/31/2017
Contact Information: 
Judy Smith (smith.judy@epa.gov)
503-326-6994

EPA has selected Skamania County for two brownfields environmental site assessment grants totaling $300,000. With this funding, Skamania County will assess seven brownfields sites as an initial step towards cleaning up and redeveloping vacant and underutilized properties, transforming them into an asset for both the community and the local economy while protecting public health and the environment.

“EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the President’s budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program.”

Skamania County was selected for community-wide hazardous substances grant funds totaling $150,000 that will be used to conduct seven environmental site assessments. In addition, these communities were selected for community-wide petroleum grant funds of $150,000 to conduct the same tasks at sites with potential petroleum contamination. Grant funds also will be used to support community involvement activities, and inventory and prioritize brownfield sites.

“The old veneer mill site is within walking distance of Skamania Lodge, a major destination resort and with a clean bill of health its potential as another economic driver within our community is spectacular,” said Bob Hamlin, Skamania County Commissioner.

The grant funds will be used to assess the underutilized brownfields along the Columbia River waterfront and along important streams that merge with the Columbia River, including downtown Stevenson, Washington. Skamania County has been hit especially hard by the closure of multiple mills along the waterfront contributing to the shrinking amount of buildable land. Redeveloping these underutilized sites will stimulate the regional and local economy, encourage much-needed local job growth, and cause economic ripple effects that can benefit the entire community.

The grant funding will support a Geographic Information Systems-based inventory of brownfield sites in Skamania County, community outreach materials and meetings, environmental site assessments, cleanup, and redevelopment planning. Skamania County is growing quickly, experiencing 34% growth in population since the 1991 mill closure. So far, much of the development to accommodate this growth has involved urban sprawl that utilizes greenfields and demands new infrastructure.

Brownfields assessment and cleanup grants target communities with significant distress. These communities are economically disadvantaged -- neighborhoods where environmental assessment, cleanup and new jobs are most needed for residents that have historically been left behind.

Skamania County is one of 172 communities selected nationally for new brownfields assessment and cleanup funding in 2017.  Across the country, $56.8 million in funding will be granted. 

For more information about Brownfields Cleanup and Assessment Grants: www.epa.gov/brownfields

To view fact sheets about the 2017 grant recipients: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-list-fy17-grants-selected-funding

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