October 19, 2022

Three watersheds impacted by historic mining receive federal funding

Photo courtesy Deb Haaland

New Mexico will receive $300,000 in federal funds made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for restoration projects in three watersheds in Luna and Santa Fe counties.

These watersheds—Cooke’s Peak, Fluorite Ridge and New Placers—are located in areas where mining and milling operations have occurred in the past. 

The funding will help with removal of invasive vegetation, re-contouring of streambeds and mitigating for mine tailings. It will also fund revegetation with native seeds.

The Bureau of Land Management is partnering with the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Mining and Minerals Division on the project, which is one of 17 projects that the U.S. Department of the Interior announced funding for on Tuesday. The 17 projects—totalling nearly $10 million—are focused on addressing legacy pollution and conserving ecosystems.

“At the Department of the Interior, we are using every tool at our disposal to support multiple programs to clean up these legacy environmental hazards, advance environmental justice, support good paying jobs, and safeguard our lands for future generations,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a press release on Tuesday.

The announcement came as part of the Department of the Interior’s Legacy Pollution Week.

The projects also include restoration and vegetation management on BLM-managed lands and nearby watershed areas in the western United States that contain waste rock and tailings. This project will cost $1.94 million and includes lands in McKinley and Sandoval counties.

The announcement also includes $140,000 to restore streambanks and wetlands impacted by upstream mining in the Animas Forks area near Silverton, Colorado. This watershed flows into the Animas River that passes through northwest New Mexico.