OURAY – The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership will be hosting a daylong workshop titled “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” on Friday, Dec. 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ouray Community Center. Various representatives from state and local organizations will be attending the workshop, which will focus on reclamation activities and abandoned mine lands in the upper Uncompahgre watershed.
The workshop’s organizer, Andrew Madison, who is an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer working in Ridgway to develop a mine reclamation strategy for abandoned mine lands in the watershed, said that while there has already been a lot of mine reclamation work completed in the area, the work has just begun.
“There are over 350 abandoned mines in the watershed,” Madison said in an interview on Tuesday. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done.”
According to Madison, regionally abandoned mines can pose hazards to both people and the environment due to unsafe mine openings and structures, as well as soils and surface water contamination from acid mine drainage and abandoned mine waste. But these sites also represent an important part of the culture and heritage of Ouray County and provide a unique glimpse into the past for tourists and younger generations. Through proper management, reclamation, and by safeguarding existing hazards, these sites can be remediated while preserving their cultural aspects.
Participants in the workshop will include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety, Trust for Land Restoration, Trout Unlimited, and the Red Mountain Project, among others.
“What we are trying to do is get the different government agencies and non-government organizations talking about what they are doing in terms of remediating abandoned mine lands to get more collaboration and cooperation between the groups,” Madison said. “A lot of different groups are doing a lot of different things in different areas and we are trying to put that all together under one report.”
According to Madison, throughout the day the different groups will be making presentations. Afterward, a discussion on remediation prioritization and project funding will take place, and the group will begin to determine which historic structures and trails need to be preserved.
The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership is a volunteer group seeking to involve citizens and organizations in the Uncompahgre watershed. Its mission is to protect and restore water quality in the Uncompahgre River through coordinated community and agency efforts.
“I am really looking forward to the workshop,” Madison said. “I have had a great response so far and I am looking forward to getting people to talk to each other on these issues.”
For more information about “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” contact Madison at 413/297-7232 or at email@example.com.