DELTA – The Carbonero Tailings Reclamation Project, a four-year cleanup of abandoned mill tailings one-quarter mile east of Ophir, wrapped up last week.
The project entailed the removal of nearly 15,000 cubic yards of tailings from the San Miguel River floodplain by grading, shaping and encapsulating (with a waterproof cover) tailings in the Howard Fork drainage into long-term stable slopes, eliminating potential exposure of humans and wildlife to toxic metals, primarily lead, and reducing the migration of heavy metals, primarily zinc, into the surrounding surface water and groundwater systems.
“This has been a win-win project from the beginning,” said Norwood District Ranger Judy Schutza, going on to cite “cooperation among everyone involved” resulting in “a success for the river, the environment, and local residents.”
The mill tailings were deposited along the north floodplain of the Howard Fork via a wooden flume from the former historic underground mining and milling activities associated with the Carbonero Mine and North Star Mill. The mill, initially constructed for the Carbonero Mines and Reduction Company, became operational in 1924, and was abandoned in 1930, with several companies leasing the operation during its six years of operation.
For the next 80 years, the mill tailings contributed a significant source of zinc metal loading to the Howard Fork.
The U.S. Forest Service contracted with Millennium Science and Engineering, Inc., to reclaim the tailings site; cooperating entities included local, state and federal organizations, as well as Town of Ophir, Great Outdoors Colorado and the San Miguel Conservation Foundation.
Annual Fall Lake Trout Management Operations Begin at Blue Mesa Reservoir
GUNNISON – As part of the continuing effort to restore balance to the fishery at Blue Mesa Reservoir, the Colorado Division of Wildlife will soon begin its second annual fall operation to reduce lake trout populations in the reservoir.
During the Colorado Wildlife Commission's Las Animas workshop on Oct. 7, DOW biologists briefed commissioners on changes to the management plan, including experimenting with overnight netting operations that will focus on areas where they expect to increase capture of lake trout. Based on a population model developed in collaboration with Colorado State University, biologists explained that they needed to increase the take of lake trout in order to restore kokanee populations.
"Our population studies show that even with the removals last year, the lake trout population continues to grow," said Dan Brauch, aquatic biologist in Gunnison for the DOW. "If the lake trout population cannot be controlled, there is a very serious risk that we'll lose the kokanee salmon."
Brauch added that even with the removal project, lake trout will continue to be abundant in the reservoir and provide ample trophy and recreational opportunities.
"We want to assure anglers that we are working hard to restore a balance in the fishery so that everyone can enjoy pursuing the species of their choice," he said.