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A Community-Based, Watershed Reclamation Project for the Willow Creek Watershed, Colorado: Project Development and Initial Progress

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The Creede Mining District is located within the Willow Creek watershed, which provides tributary flows to the Rio Grande River headwaters in south-central Colorado. This mining district, along with the City of Creede, is the site of one of the last major Rocky Mountain silver strikes and associated mining booms of the 1890s. The Creede District was mined intensively until approximately 1973, leaving behind a legacy of draining mine adits, waste rock dumps, tailings, acid/metal-enriched seeps, and associated historic structures. Beginning in the 1980s, efforts were initiated by the State of Colorado and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address physical hazards to public health and chemical hazards to aquatic and water resources. Concern for aquatic resources arose because of several reported fish kills in the Rio Grande that apparently were caused by metals discharged from Willow Creek. Agency findings provided a basis for EPA to consider placing the Willow Creek area on the National Priorities List under CERCLA. However, the local community, operating cooperatively with private industry and interested State and Federal agencies, proposed a community-based, watershed initiative for proactive cleanup of the watershed. This approach has provided a forum and governing body to advocate community interests in the design and implementation of cleanup actions and associated site development. This paper provides an overview of the organization and present status of the Willow Creek reclamation project as guided by the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee, an integrated community-industry-agency stakeholder group.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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