In 1999 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approached the Towns of Ward and Jamestown about the possibility of large areas near or in the towns being added to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) to fund necessary cleanup activities. Many area residents had serious concerns about having such a large area near their homes declared a Superfund site. To address this concern, the Boulder County Health Department (BCHD) obtained a grant from EPA and the Colorado Department of Environmental Quality to create a community-based task force to explore alternatives to listing the large area. The Left Hand Watershed Task Force then set up meetings attended both by EPA officials and local citizens to talk about possible outcomes. In 2002 the task force submitted its report to the Boulder County Board of Health. By this time public opinion in Ward had changed, and the Captain Jack Mill site, along Left Hand Creek in California Gulch just south of Ward, was added to the NPL list in 2003. The task force recommended using other clean-up options to address mine sites in other parts of the watershed.

An important recommendation by the task force was for the formation of a continuing grass-roots watershed protection group, the Left Hand Watershed Oversight Group or LWOG. The group was chartered as a Colorado Nonprofit in 2004 and obtained tax-exempt 501(C)(3) status from the IRS in 2005. One of the first activities of LWOG was to develop a watershed plan to direct future efforts at cleaning up mine wastes. The watershed plan was published on August 10, 2005. Since then LWOG has been working to improve the water quality and watershed health of the Left Hand Creek Watershed by working with all watershed stakeholders to come together and talk about the best way to get things done.