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U.S. EPA Announces $1.9 Million in Brownfields Grants to Promote Economic Redevelopment Across Northern California

More than $5.1 million to be awarded statewide

05/31/2017
Contact Information: 
Michele Huitric (huitric.michele@epa.gov)
415-972-3165

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the City of Arcata, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, the City of Grass Valley, the Plumas County Community Development Commission, and the City of Yreka will receive a total of $1.9 million in federal grant funds for brownfield site revitalization efforts. These grants are part of the $56.8 million awarded nationally to 172 recipients to assess and clean up historically contaminated properties, also known as brownfields, to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies.

“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.”

City of Arcata – The City of Arcata will use EPA’s $300,000 grant to provide assessments at a former lumber mill and industrial sites located throughout Arcata. The selected sites are high-priority locations that will induce job growth while protecting human health and local waterways, including the Arcata Marsh and Humboldt Bay. In accordance with the City of Arcata's Redevelopment Implementation Plan, the assessments and remedial plans completed under this grant will also create sites for low-income housing—a critical need in the community—and recreational opportunities such as green space and public parks.   

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District –  The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District will receive $200,000 to remove contaminated debris piles associated with a former pulp mill site in Samoa, Calif. This grant award will leverage previous EPA cleanup activities at the site, where over 3 million gallons of hazardous liquid waste and 10,000 tons of hazardous solid waste have already been removed. The previous cleanup effort cleaned up one-third of the site and allowed for the establishment of two successful aquaculture enterprises. The current grant award will support commercial development on the remainder of the site, creating more jobs and economic stimulus in the City of Samoa and the surrounding communities while removing contaminants that threaten the Humboldt Bay ecosystem. 

City of Grass Valley – The City of Grass Valley will receive $598,312 to support brownfield property assessments and cleanup planning in Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Nevada County in the Sierra Foothills of northern California. The funding will assess mine-scarred lands and former mill sites surrounding these communities and will prepare cleanup plans for high-priority properties suitable for community development. Eventual cleanup of these sites will protect human health, clear the way for sustainable infill development and allow for the continued expansion of the area's growing tourism industry, which is a driver for the local economy. This grant will support redevelopment in the target communities by leveraging over $4.5 million in private funding and building on work completed under previous EPA Brownfields grants in the area, as well as recent state and federal research on mine remediation. In the long term, cleanup will also help prevent typical mining contaminants such as lead, arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals from entering local waterways used by many for subsistence fishing and recreation.

Plumas County Community Development Commission – Plumas County will use EPA’s $200,000 grant to complete a brownfields property assessment and develop a cleanup plan for a 28-acre former lumber mill site in Crescent Mills, Calif. The site will later be redeveloped into an integrative wood utilization campus that will create valuable products out of biomass material—organic matter used as a fuel—removed from surrounding forests for fire control and ecosystem restoration. The campus will include a biomass power station facility, a wood chipping facility and other businesses focused around wood product utilization. These enterprises will spur the local economy and create jobs lost from the declining timber industry. Redevelopment of this property will reduce inefficient forest biomass burning, which degrades air quality, and will prevent contamination on the site from entering local waterways. The grant award will leverage approximately $1 million of preliminary assessment and redevelopment grants that have already been provided for this site.

City of Yreka – The City of Yreka will receive $600,000 to support brownfield property assessments and redevelopment planning in the cities of Yreka and Weed and Siskiyou County. This award will build on the momentum of a previous $400,000 EPA brownfields grant that leveraged $40 million in economic reinvestment. The project will focus on a decommissioned airport that is a prime opportunity for manufacturing development, several properties in the City of Weed destroyed in a recent major fire, blighted properties in the City of Yreka identified for future greenways and other priority sites. Collectively, these efforts will support economic and jobs growth and improved quality of life.  For example, the Yreka greenways will house community events, as well as reduce the impacts of future floods and improve local water quality. These communities have already leveraged $9.5 million to support the redevelopment of properties that will be assessed through EPA’s grant award.        

Overview of the funds being announced today:

  • $25 million to communities who are receiving assessment and cleanup funding for the first time
  • $17.5 million of the assessment and cleanup funding will benefit small and rural communities with populations less than 10,000
  • Recipients will each receive approximately $200,000 - $600,000 in funding to work on individual sites or several sites within their community
  • These funds will provide communities with resources necessary to determine the extent of site contamination, remove environmental uncertainties and clean up contaminated properties where needed.

Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15.2% within a 1.24-mile radius of that site. A study analyzing data near 48 brownfield sites shows that an estimated $29 to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to those brownfields.

As of May 2017, more than 124,759 jobs and $24 billion of public and private funding has been leveraged as a result of assessment grants and other EPA Brownfields grants. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.

View the list of the FY 2017 applicants selected for funding here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-list-fy17-grants-selected-funding

More on EPA’s Brownfields program:  https://epa.gov/brownfields

More on successful Brownfields stories: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-success-stories

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