Fishing Conservation photo

There are as many as half a million abandoned mine sites on private property throughout the West, many of which continue to leak arsenic, zinc, lead, and other toxins into soil and water, including some celebrated fisheries. Cleaning up such sites has traditionally involved wading through a mire of bureaucracy and red tape. But now a private cleanup completed Tuesday in Utah’s American Fork Canyon is being hail as a brand new model. The project was made possible when in response to a petition by Trout Unlimited, the Environmental Protection Agency waived liability for a nonprofit cleanup on private property for the first time ever. The success of the American Fork Canyon project promises to pave the way for similar efforts in the future.