At the end of the nineteenth century, the “silver ribbed” Red Mountain Mining District was one of the richest and most productive mining areas in the country. Millions of dollars were mined from the mountains, but challenges such as the Silver Panic of 1893, town fires, and extreme water seepage caused the eventual decline of the district. Today, mining towns like Ouray treasure their founding heritage of discovery, ingenuity, and hard work, and often hope for the industry’s return. They also need to deal with the expensive challenge of cleaning up after abandoned mines that pose environmental and safety concerns.
The inspiration for this Conference came from the UWP’s desire to understand the Uncompahgre watershed and research ways to improve its water quality. The upper stretch of the river is listed on the Colorado Impaired Waters List for excessive levels of cadmium, copper, zinc, and iron. Regional watershed groups including the Animas River Stakeholders and Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, to name a few, will share the lessons they have learned from their restoration projects, “So we don’t have to reinvent the wheel”, said UWP Watershed Coordinator Sarah Sauter.
The UWP and MSI would like to thank MOSAIC Community Project, Alpine Bank, and Colorado Non-Point Source Pollution Program for their financial support.
The UWP is dedicated to understanding the health of the Uncompahgre River. We are an informal, grassroots coalition of local citizens that is working to find local ways to improve and protect the watershed. We do not support nor advocate against mining, but would rather like to work with industry to promote environmentally responsible mineral extraction. Learn about our meetings and events online: http://uncompahgrewatershed.org.