Projects to restore areas damaged by the Gold King mine spill

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GALLUP – The New Mexico Office of Natural Resources Trustee is seeking ideas from the public for projects that will restore natural resources damaged by the Gold King mine spill.

In January, the state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation announced separate multi-million dollar settlements with Sunnyside Gold Corp. and its parent companies, Kinross Gold Corp. and Kinross Gold USA Inc., regarding the Gold King mine breach on August 5, 2015 north of Silverton, Colorado.

The rupture released millions of gallons of water laden with toxic metals and acidic waste into the Animas and San Juan rivers, polluting agricultural areas and harming agricultural and recreational tourism industries.

The $ 10 million New Mexico settlement included an additional $ 1 million payment to the Office of Natural Resources Trustee to complete natural resource restoration projects in areas affected by the mine spill.

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A Farmington resident stops to view the Animas River at Berg Park in Farmington on August 8, 2015, after being contaminated with waste from the Gold King mine spill.

The office is soliciting ideas as part of the preliminary steps for the use of the amount.

“This awareness raising is an important step towards restoring the natural resources affected by the liberation,” the office press release said.

Litigation continues in lawsuits brought by the state and tribe against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its contractors in federal court, the statement said.

Projects eligible for funding must be related to the Animas River, the San Juan River or both in addition to:

  • Benefit from surface water, wildlife and / or aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Take advantage of the services provided by these natural resources, such as irrigation or outdoor recreation.
  • Remedy any existing degradation of rivers.

“Eligible projects must have broad public benefit and a direct link to the environmental damage caused by the discharge, including negative economic impacts,” the statement said.

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Additional information on the process, eligibility, and assessment criteria is available on the Office of the Natural Resources Administrator’s website, onrt.env.nm.gov.

The deadline for submitting project ideas is August 31st.

Projects will be selected and a final restoration plan will be released by January, the statement said.

A group of people watch the discolored Animas River pass through Berg Park in Farmington on August 8, 2015, following the Gold King mine spill.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for the Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at [email protected]

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