The Coronado National Forest said the environmental cleanup of the abandoned Three R Mine near Patagonia was set to begin Monday.
Also on Monday, the CNF said, the first phase of a cleanup of abandoned mines would begin in the Upper Harshaw Creek watershed on the northern fringe of the Patagonia Mountains, off Forest Road 49 (Harshaw Creek Road).
The Three R Mine site is at the end of Forest Road 215 on private and National Forest lands, where past mining operations left approximately 9,200 cubic yards of waste material containing concentrations of arsenic, copper, cadmium and other heavy metals, the CNF said in a news release.
Tetra Tech, the contractor on the project, was set to “mobilize construction equipment” this week, removing mine waste material out of the drainage re-grading, and constructing erosion control measures in the drainage channels, according to the news release.
As a result of heavy construction equipment being in the area, FR 215 will be closed 0.7 miles past the junction with FR 4679 at its terminus at the private land boundary, the CNF said, adding that the project is scheduled to be completed by March 2021.
Meanwhile, the work getting under way in the Harshaw Creek Road area involves five abandoned mines: Marstellar Mine, August Mine, Blue Nose Mine, Morning Glory Mine and Endless Chain Mine.
These sites have been littered with more than 44,600 cubic yards of mine waste material containing arsenic, lead and other heavy metals, the CNF said.
During the first phase of clean-up, the contractor, Pioneer, will deploy heavy construction equipment at the Marstellar, Augusta and Blue Nose mines. Waste material from all three mines will be excavated and placed in a consolidation cell at the Marstellar Mine, the CNF said.
Due to heavy construction equipment and increased traffic in the area, a road closure was set to begin Monday, Nov. 16.
“Once excavation is complete, the contractor will install erosion control measures, seed disturbed areas, and install fencing to aid revegetation. Adits and shafts will also be closed using bat-friendly gates,” the agency said in a news release.
The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed before March 1, 2021, and the second phase is planned for October 2021.
“Maintaining public lands within the Coronado National Forest is important for community and environmental health,” environmental engineer Hailey Stock said in the news release. “We value the protection and safety of communities in and surrounding the forest, and the clean-up of abandoned mines is one way we can continue our commitment to public safety and forest restoration.”