Coronado National Forest to begin cleanup of abandoned mines near Patagonia

Abandoned mine clean up near Patagonia. (Source: U.S. Forest Service)
Abandoned mine clean up near Patagonia. (Source: U.S. Forest Service)
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 3:08 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The first phase of an environmental cleanup of abandoned mines will begin on Nov. 16 in the Upper Harshaw Creek watershed on the Sierra Vista Ranger District.

The project will take place on the northern fringe of the Patagonia Mountains off Forest Road (FR) 49, Harshaw Creek Road.

Due to heavy construction equipment and increased traffic in the area, a road closure will begin Nov. 16.

The result of previous mining activities left five abandoned mines, Marstellar Mine, August Mine, Blue Nose Mine, Morning Glory Mine, and Endless Chain Mine, littered with over 44,600 cubic yards of mine waste material containing arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

“Maintaining public lands within the Coronado National Forest is important for community and environmental health,” said Hailey Stock, Environmental Engineer. “We value the protection and safety of communities in and surrounding the forest, and the clean-up of abandoned mines is one way we can continue our commitment to public safety and forest restoration.”

During the first phase, the contractor, Pioneer, will mobilize heavy construction equipment to begin the cleanup at Marstellar Mine, Augusta Mine, and Blue Nose Mine. Waste material from all three mines will be excavated and placed in a consolidation cell at the Marstellar Mine.

Once excavation is complete, the contractor will install erosion control measures, seed disturbed areas, and install fencing to aid revegetation. Adits and shafts will also be closed using bat-friendly gates. The first phase is scheduled to be completed before March 1, 2021.

The second phase of the project is planned for October 2021. For additional information on closures, please visit the Coronado National Forest website.

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