In 2015, Sweetgrass Development (Sweetgrass) was awarded a $400,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Assessment Grant to complete environmental assessments and cleanup planning on properties contaminated with petroleum and hazardous substances, including asbestos and lead-based paint. This award allows Sweetgrass to assist landowners (public and private) faced with environmental issues that are preventing redevelopment or sale of their properties. Properties located in Glacier, Cascade, Pondera, Teton and Toole counties, as well as the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, are potentially eligible to participate in the program.
WHAT IS A BROWNFIELD?
A Brownfield is a property where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse is complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Nearly every community in Montana has Brownfields sites. Left untouched, a Brownfield can pose insurmountable environmental, legal, and public and private investment challenges; and can pose a threat to human health or water sources.
HOW THE SWEETGRASS DEVELOPMENT BROWNFIELDS PROGRAM WORKS
Sweetgrass Development helps landowners remove environmental barriers to redevelopment on Brownfields sites within Glacier, Cascade, Pondera, Teton and Toole counties, as well as the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Local groups or private investors reluctant to invest in a property out of fear of contamination can utilize assessment funds to determine the nature and extent of the environmental problem. Sweetgrass assists communities and eligible private/public property owners affected by environmental contamination by:
· Completing Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments
· Estimating site contaminant risks, if any
· Developing conceptual cleanup plans and costs based on the nature and extent of contamination
BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATING IN THE BROWNFIELDS ASSESSMENT PROGRAM
The benefits of participating in the Brownfields Program are many. Assessments are completed by a contractor hired by Sweetgrass at no cost to the property owner. The information generated can be used to create cleanup plans and apply for cleanup funding, satisfy purchaser or lender concerns, regulatory agency requirements, or simply to determine whether or not environmental contamination exists on a property. Often, the unknown nature of the contamination limits public and private investments. Through assessment, the contamination risk can be quantified and plans can be made to address the problem. Participation in Sweetgrass’ Brownfield program may also make a property eligible for additional state and federal Brownfields funds for further assessment and cleanup.