Patagonia Area Resource Alliance http://www.patagoniaalliance.org For a thriving community Wed, 21 Jun 2017 19:17:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cropped-1para-logo-site-icon-32x32.png Patagonia Area Resource Alliance http://www.patagoniaalliance.org 32 32 Press Release http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/press-release/ Fri, 19 May 2017 17:36:30 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7418 POTENTIAL IMPACT OF MINING ON PATAGONIA AREA Early in May, Arizona Mining Inc (AMI) released its Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA). As a Canadian company trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, AMI is guided by National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects which defines the information that can be provided in a PEA and “. […]

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POTENTIAL IMPACT OF MINING ON PATAGONIA AREA

Early in May, Arizona Mining Inc (AMI) released its Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA). As a Canadian company trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, AMI is guided by National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects which defines the information that can be provided in a PEA and “. . . it can only demonstrate the potential viability of mineral resources, not the technical or economic viability of a project.”

Some of the items in the PEA related to water, hazardous materials and truck traffic:

“For the PEA it was ASSUMED [emphasis added] an adequate water resource from ground water wells is available on the mine property.” p 201

The project will use 650 gallons of water per minute. If the mine goes into production, it will operate 24 hours, 7 days a week. 650 gallons of water per minute is 936,000 gallons per day, 6,552,000 gallons per week, 27,846,000 gallons per month, 334,152,000 gallons of water annually.

“After mineral extraction, approximately 50% of the tailings will be sent back underground as backfill . . .” p7

“The recommended mining method is sub-level open stoping.” p 8 “The underground mine is relatively deep and has a large mining footprint.” p 17 The average drill depth in 2016-17 was 4,094 feet and the average depth of the Taylor holes is 3,725 feet.

Mining activities will be fully mechanized and large modern trackless mobile equipment will be employed throughout.” p 140

Of the many chemicals (reagents) to be used onsite, two are HIGHLY toxic: sodium cyanide and ammonium nitrate.There will be extensive blasting. “This would require approximately 143 Tons / month of explosive requiring 7 transport deliveries per month. Peak consumption is in Year 6 and the maximum quantity of explosives required is 2,460 tons per year, or 205 tons per month, requiring 10 transport deliveries per month.” p 165

Timothy McVeigh used 2 tons of ammonium nitrate when he blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma. 240 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored at the West Fertilizer Company in Texas when an explosion in 2013 killed 15, injured 200 and damaged many buildings.

 
The estimates for monthly truck traffic (estimates are ONE WAY so double the number to get road traffic):

SUPPLY AND CONCENTRATE TRUCKS:
(assumption is each truck carries 40,000 pounds)

ammonium nitrate deliveries p 165 7-10 per month
sodium cyanide deliveries p 205 1-2 per month
other chemical deliveries p 205 40 per month
shipment of concentrates p182 & 183 1,946 per month
(assumption: zinc and lead concentrates are material that would be shipped if not shipped as concentrates than number would be larger)
Employees p148

  • 264 employees per day; 7,920 per month

OR

  • AMI suggests employees will be bused from Nogales, Sierra Vista and Tucson which would be 180 buses per month (assumption buses are full and carry 50 people)

The BIG truck traffic totals an estimated 3,996 trucks per month or 133 BIG trucks per day on Harshaw road any time of the day or night. PLUS 264 employees who will travel in buses or personal vehicles.

Truck Access Roads: “Three access routes to the mine property were reviewed. Each route is along existing improved and unimproved roadways. The preferred alternative is to upgrade the existing Harshaw road.” “These potential new improvements or any operating restrictions could arise through the necessary coordination with the town of Patagonia, and possibly others.” p 163

As stated twice in the PEA (p 15 and p 212): “The PEA is preliminary in nature. It includes inferred Mineral Resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as Mineral Reserves. There is no certainty that the PEA will be realized.”

The potential impact on the quantity and quality of water, the blasting and the increase in traffic would be devastating on the quality of life in the Patagonia area. This is just the tip of the iceberg which would be a mine operation in the middle of the Patagonia mountains, one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse areas of the United States. The impact on the area’s water system, the loss of tree coverage and the increase in noise 24 hours a day among all other impacts would make life difficult for all residents of the Patagonia area.

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The 239 page PEA link: https://www.arizonamining.com/_resources/technical-reports/Arizona-Mining-Technical-Report.pdf

Patagonia Area Resource Alliance is a grassroots, non-profit community alliance committed to preserving and protecting the Patagonia Mountains and to empowering people to steward this global biodiversity hotspot. Contact info@patagoniaalliance.org or Carolyn Shafer at 520.405.1117

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PARA Newsletter http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/para-newsletter/ Sun, 30 Apr 2017 18:13:35 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7401 AMI’s Recent History About six miles outside of Patagonia, a junior Canadian mining company has staked claims on about 20,000 acres of public land. Of that acreage, roughly 450 acres are patented, private claims. Typically, a junior Canadian mining company develops a potential mine location through the exploratory drilling and permit process. They then sell […]

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AMI’s Recent History

About six miles outside of Patagonia, a junior Canadian mining company has staked claims on about 20,000 acres of public land. Of that acreage, roughly 450 acres are patented, private claims. Typically, a junior Canadian mining company develops a potential mine location through the exploratory drilling and permit process. They then sell the proposed mine to a senior mining company that does the actual mining. A very small percentage of proposed mines actually develop into active mines.

Late in 2012, Wildcat Silver–now known as Arizona Mining Inc (AMI)–reported that its Hermosa project would be “the largest silver mine in the U.S.” (State Geologist of Arizona). Early in 2014, Wildcat Silver/AMI released its Pre-Feasibility Report. PARA and a national conservation organization, Earthworks, released a factual analysis of the Pre-Feasibility Report that raised serious concerns about the resulting water shortages, water contamination, and traffic issues. The Hermosa project never became an active mine.

In January 2016, AMI acquired title to the Trench Mine property in exchange for the obligation to clean-up the toxic mess left by mining company ASARCO. Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) solicited public comments on AMI’s proposal for a passive water treatment plant. PARA’s expert listed numerous problems with the passive water treatment plant. ADEQ subsequently announced that AMI will now design an active water treatment plant. ADEQ has not advised when the second proposed design will be ready for review.

AMI has been doing exploratory drilling on their private patented claims for over a year. On April 3, AMI issued a Press Release with some details from their Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA). One of the details in the Press Release is of major concern. Water use is forecast at 650 gallons PER MINUTE. That’s almost a million gallons of water a day! Link to PEA.

The Town of Patagonia’s economy has grown 421% since the last mines left in the 1960s. It’s time to focus on the economic activities that will contribute to a restorative and stable economy. We don’t want to be lured by grand promises from a known “boom & bust” industry that is also the top polluting industry in the United States.

AMI Attempting To Purchase Public Land in the Patagonia Mountains

Arizona Mining Inc–a Canadian company–has submitted a Small Tracts Act application to purchase 14 acres of public land adjacent to their private patented lands on the east side of Harshaw Road. The Coronado National Forest is currently evaluating the application. The Forest Service has discretion to say no to their request, should it not be found to be in the best interest. The Forest Service has advised PARA to file a Freedom of Information Act for any information about the land request.

The Coronado National Forest is public land which is owned by the citizens of the United States of America. It is hard to believe that the best interest would be to sell any of our public land to a foreign company.

AMI‘s private land is six miles south of the town of Patagonia near the intersection of Harshaw Road and Flux Canyon Road. Since 2007, AMI has been engaged in an exploratory drilling program in search of something to mine. The exploratory drilling activity has resulted in significant changes to the Patagonia Mountain region. Access roads have been bladed into the forest, mountain tops have been leveled for drill pads, and trees have been removed. Flux Canyon Road is now closed. The noise of the drill rigs is constant and the night time drilling lights can be seen for miles.

The environmental protections of public land far outweigh the protections of private land. The attempt by AMI to convert public land to private is believed to be a means to subvert the environmental protections of public land for a foreign company’s financial gain.

The Forest Service must know that the citizens of the United States do not want to sell their land to a foreign company. Please contact the Coronado National Forest and tell them that your land is not for sale

Please contact:
Daisy Kinsey, District Ranger
4070 S. Avenida Saracino, Hereford, AZ 85615
ckinsey@fs.fed.us
520-378-0311

We’re Hiring a Coordinator!

The Patagonia Area Resource Alliance is a grassroots, non-profit community alliance committed to preserving and protecting the Patagonia, Arizona area. We are looking for a Coordinator ready and willing to help us along!

PARA formed in 2011 in response to renewed mining interest in the Patagonia Mountains. We’ve made it our mission to educate and engage the community about the risks and realities of mining, to promote local sustainable economies, to better understand our precious and imperiled natural resources such as clean water and wildlife, and to actively advocate for the protection of those resources including Patagonia’s distinct and serene rural way of life.

Does that sound like you? We want to hear from you soon! Sound like someone you know? Please help us spread the word!

Learn more and apply!

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PARA January News http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/para-january-news/ Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:17:40 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7320 What Happened?! Arizona Mining Inc has had some bad days recently. Ironically, it all started after AMI’s stock went up. It was looking great for them. Then the Global Mining Observer article came out. It referred to AMI as a “mini Bre-X.” Bre-X was one of the biggest stock scandals in Canadian history, and the biggest mining scandal […]

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What Happened?!

Arizona Mining Inc has had some bad days recently. Ironically, it all started after AMI’s stock went up. It was looking great for them. Then the Global Mining Observer article came out. It referred to AMI as a “mini Bre-X.” Bre-X was one of the biggest stock scandals in Canadian history, and the biggest mining scandal of all time. It also called AMI’s Chairman, Richard Warke, a “prolific company founder” with quite a few “bankruptcies and delistings.” And it pointed to the manganese issue that AMI seems to be having. “Manganese clogs up smelters, sticking to anodes and tanks, which have to be emptied and cleaned if they are processing manganese-heavy material. The upshot: too much manganese in with your zinc and the product isn’t viable.”

AMI didn’t want those associations. Arizona Mining Announces Retraction Of Article By The Global Mining Observer.

The very next day, Global Mining Observer wrote another article, Banks Slam Manganese Concerns. Two of the three banks interviewed, Scotia Capital and TD Securities, had recently offered a deal of 36 million dollars to AMI. The banks’ comments seemed only to protect their investment.

The new article also got rid of the personal attacks and the Bre-X reference. But it still discussed the manganese issue.

AMI’s stock dropped 60 cents as a result. The stock market also stopped trading on AMI that day. Their stock has not returned to the same level as before this story.

What did AMI do next? The Angry Geologist blogger noticed the change in his blog.When you have a project that is suffering from a bit of turbulence, what do you do? Easy – just remove any misleading statements from your presentation.”

AMI removed all references to high quality, clean concentrates in their material. The zinc and silver recoveries have changed as well as the grade of the concentrate for lead and zinc. The Angry Geologist noticed, “in 2 weeks with no additional testing AZ [Mining] have managed to decrease recoveries of Zinc and Silver.”

We feel that it is interesting that the mining industry questions one of their own. And according to the Angry Geologist blog, “wow, all of the drill-holes are on private land?” We’ve noticed that too! “Why? It is reallly that hard to get a permit to drill a few holes in the Coronado National Forest?”

Yes, apparently it is! What in the world will AMI do next?

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2016 PARA’s End of the Year http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/2016-end-of-the-year/ Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:14:32 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7260 Wow, what a year it has been! Your friends and neighbors at the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance have been busy. But first, I must say thank you for your support and understanding. Last year at this time, I had a stroke at the age of 46. Through the thoughtfulness of the PARA board, especially my […]

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Wow, what a year it has been! Your friends and neighbors at the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance have been busy. But first, I must say thank you for your support and understanding. Last year at this time, I had a stroke at the age of 46. Through the thoughtfulness of the PARA board, especially my husband Gooch, I was allowed to stay on as the Coordinator. I’m happy to be here and continue the good work of PARA. Thanks again.

Now let’s get back to it! PARA was originally formed in 2011 in response to renewed mining interest in the Patagonia Mountains. We’ve made it our mission to educate and engage the community about the risks and realities of mining, to promote local sustainable economies, to better understand our precious and imperiled natural resources such as clean water and wildlife, and to actively advocate for the protection of those resources including Patagonia’s distinct and serene way of life.

The past twelve months have seemingly sped by while we have been advocating to protect this amazing place that we all treasure from the threats that exploratory drilling and mining pose to our small community. And you have helped us along the way this year! You have volunteered, come to public meetings, wrote letters, monitored wildlife, and participated in the NEPA process.

It has been another amazing and transforming year for PARA, but we have so much more to do! PARA runs on a shoestring budget with the human power of an almost entirely volunteer workforce and our two person outreach team — budgeted for only 30 hours per week. We’d like to do so much more! Please consider making a donation to PARA this year to support and grow this critical work in our community.

A few of the activities and accomplishments reached this year through the contributions of all of PARA’s supporters, volunteers and partners:

Tireless Advocacy for Patagonia Area Water Lead Queen mine 2016

On hand — again — after the rain from Hurricane Javier took down the gabions and leaked mine-influenced water into Harshaw Creek. The area was originally cited in 2014 for the colored runoff leaking from the old Lead Queen Mine. The subsequent environmental cleanup by the US Forest Service was meant to prevent acid mine drainage from getting into Harshaw Creek and the Town of Patagonia’s water supply. Now the leak is worse than it’s ever been. The Forest Service plans to remediate five more abandoned mines in the Patagonia mountains next year — if they ever get this one right.

 

Empowering the Community, Ensuring Due Diligence

Defenders letterCoordinated and submitted NEPA scoping comments on the USFS Environmental Assessment for the Arizona Mining Inc’s Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project along with Defenders of Wildlife, Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, and Sky Island Alliance. Hosted a community scoping workshop to empower residents to comment on the Taylor project. The event included of an overview of the Taylor proposal and its likely cumulative impacts by Cliff Hirsch, and a NEPA presentation with how to comment on the Environmental Assessment scoping phase by Eva Sargent. The Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project has since been CANCELLED.

 

Fall Festival SponsorshipFall Festival 2016

Stepped up our game with the Patagonia Fall Festival and became a sponsor. Invited local and regional environmental groups to join us in our double-sized space. Used amazing photographs, handouts, and an opportunity to sign a scoping letter to educate folks on the amazing beauty of our land and the mining threats it faces. Also, the Patagonia area is renowned by scientists, hikers, birdwatchers, campers, hunters, mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts. And there was our jaguar, El Jefe, handing out notecards and encouraging other little jaguars through face-painting.

 

Documenting Patagonia’s Natural History

Mama bear & babyReceived a grant from Western Mining Action Network for additional cameras and a new computer to expand our camera program in the Patagonia Mountains. Citizen scientists from the community continue wildlife monitoring efforts in the Patagonia Mountains focusing on areas immediately at risk by proposed mining activities. Data gathered is used to fight mining proposals through species lists, presence of vulnerable species and habitat analysis. Additional collaborations are ongoing with Defenders of Wildlife, EARTHWORKS, Sky Island Alliance and Tucson Audubon to ensure this data is applied to advocacy efforts in the most effective ways.

 

Looking Ahead…

Unceasing Protection of the Patagonia Mountains

With continued legal assistance from Defenders of Wildlife, PARA strives to hold mining companies, the US Forest Service and all agencies accountable to follow the laws and regulations designed to protect our water, air, surrounding ecosystems and communities. We are positioned to respond to future notices for exploratory mining proposals scheduled for the Patagonia Mountains.

 

Increasing Our Outreach for 2017

PARA is strategizing to expand community education activities to grow our base of support and empower concerned citizens with potential actions to keep mining activities out of the Patagonia Mountains. We recognize the need to establish sustainable funding to maintain core functions and seek to expand funding sources. With our additional staff funding in the 2017 budget, we plan to sustain our two person team to continue to expand our outreach beyond our community boundaries. Our 2016 Financial Report and “Report to the Community” are also available online at: www.patagoniaalliance.org/our-activities-outreach/

Please make a Year-End Gift to PARA

There are many needs in our community and many compelling requests for support. We believe one of the most fundamental is protecting our drinking water and our community from the well-known detrimental effects of mining. To that end, PARA is seeking to raise $19,000 by the end of 2016 to support the several ongoing and new initiatives outlined previously as we move into 2017. We are fortunate to have a group of amazingly committed community members and generous donors supporting our work, but we are looking to broaden the base of support to ensure not only financial sustainability, but also the ability to impact local, regional and national decision-making on our own behalf.

That’s where you come in. The work necessary to make this vision of 2017 a reality is possible only because of your time and your financial support. Please make a gift today.

Please contribute securely online at: www.patagoniaalliance.org/donations. Recurring monthly donations can also be made through your credit card.

Every single contribution makes a sizable difference to our organization and ultimately for our community. It is only because of the generous support from people like you that we can undertake this critical work. Thank you!

 

Shoofly printWinner of the Raffle

The winner of the signed and numbered lithograph “Out to Prowl Pastures” by renowned Western artist, Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt, is JOY QUIROGA of Patagonia, Arizona.

Congratulations!

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PARA November News http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/para-november-news/ Mon, 14 Nov 2016 19:06:55 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7242 Thanks! Thank you for submitting your scoping letters for the Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project to the Forest Service. They are still in the process of posting them to the Public Comment Reading Room. Supposedly, the Forest Service is still taking comments. However, comments posted after the close of the designated comment period may not be […]

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Thanks!

Thank you for submitting your scoping letters for the Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project to the Forest Service. They are still in the process of posting them to the Public Comment Reading Room. Supposedly, the Forest Service is still taking comments. However, comments posted after the close of the designated comment period may not be able to be given full consideration.

Please send any comments to:
Richard Goshen
Sierra Vista Ranger District
5990 S. Hwy. 92 , Hereford, AZ, 85615
rgoshen@fs.fed.us

Or read the comments at: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//ReadingRoom?Project=50097

We will be waiting for the draft Environmental Assessment to come out next. According to the Forest Service Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA), the Decision is expected in April 2017.

 

Lighted drill rigs

Drill rigs at night, taken from Red Mountain, nearly 4 miles away.

Arizona Mining Inc now has 15 drill rigs working on their private land

Don Taylor, Chief Operating Officer for Arizona Mining Inc. (AMI), was at the Town of Patagonia Council Meeting on October 26. He spoke highly of AMI and their work in the Patagonia Mountains. Unfortunately, very little of it was believable. More can be read in the Patagonia Regional Times. Or you can listen to the almost two hour meeting here.

AMI’s next objective is the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Public Notice for the Passive Treatment System Work Plan for the ASARCO January Adit Voluntary Remediation Program Site. The January Adit and Trench mine are the areas where the old mine workings have leaked acid mine drainage. PARA has hired an engineer who is an environmental toxicology and chemical bioremediation expert to write our comments. We will keep you updated.

 

Shoofly print

Framed size 29.5” wide x 24.25” high, signed and numbered lithograph.

Participate in a raffle for one of Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt’s prints, “Out to Prowl Pastures.”

Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt has been drawing Western art since 1975. With immense talent and superb artistry, his work depicts the true American West, which can only come from years in the saddle as a working cowboy.

Purchase your tickets online by 12 noon, December 1, 2016.
Drawing at 5 pm, December 1st.

Buy Raffle Now

2 tickets for $10 or 5 tickets for $20.

Winner will be notified by e-mail or phone.

A Raffle to Benefit Patagonia Area Resource Alliance.

Founded in 2011, Patagonia Area Resource Alliance is a grassroots, non-profit community alliance committed to preserving and protecting the Patagonia Mountains and to empowering local people to steward the exceptional place we inhabit.

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Southern Arizona’s Mountain Empire: Sanctuary for Rare and Unusual Species http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/southern-arizonas-mountain-empire-sanctuary-rare-unusual-species/ Thu, 06 Oct 2016 16:55:53 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7204 Imagine a little-known national treasure — a largely wild land home to ocelots, exotic and imperiled birds like elegant trogons and Mexican spotted owls, imperiled reptiles and amphibians like the threatened Chiricuahua leopard frog, and El Jefe, the only jaguar currently living in the United States. This is the Mountain Empire of southern Arizona, a […]

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Imagine a little-known national treasure — a largely wild land home to ocelots, exotic and imperiled birds like elegant trogons and Mexican spotted owls, imperiled reptiles and amphibians like the threatened Chiricuahua leopard frog, and El Jefe, the only jaguar currently living in the United States. This is the Mountain Empire of southern Arizona, a place as special as Yosemite or Yellowstone, and worthy of international recognition. Extending across the border into northern Sonora, Mexico, this region is bounded by mountains that rise from the flat desert floor to touch the sky. With one of the richest concentrations of biodiversity in the U.S., the Mountain Empire is a sanctuary for imperiled species. But even a sanctuary can be threatened.

Mountain Empire Map

Mountain Empire, © Thunderforest

Refuges in the Sky

One reason the Mountain Empire has so many rare and unique species is the rugged sky island mountain ranges. Each range, like the iconic Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson, stands alone surrounded by desert flatlands like an island in the sea, with mountains so tall that they span climate zones from hot, dry desert to moist forests at higher altitudes. Together, these characteristics give the mountains their nicknames of “sky islands.” For many species, the sky islands are refuges where human impacts have been relatively small. Streams rise from the rocks, nurturing rare fish, frogs, snakes, and nesting habitat for birds like threatened yellow-billed cuckoos, southwestern willow fly catchers and hummingbirds.

Western yellow billed cuckoo

Western yellow-billed cuckoo, © Creed Clayton/USFWS

There are so many hummingbird species in the Mountain Empire that the Tucson Audubon Society founded the Paton Hummingbird Center, dedicated to conserving hummingbirds and other local biodiversity.

Birders visit from countries around the world for the chance to see so many species in one place. One of Defenders’ board members, Dr. Ron Pulliam, works with the Mountain Empire group Borderlands Restoration to restore the plants that hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and moths need along Harshaw and Sonoita Creeks in the Patagonia Mountains. The globally imperiled Patagonia eyed silk moth, once widespread in native grasslands, is now making its last U.S. stand in the Patagonia Mountains. The threatened southwestern willow flycatcher, once common near Tucson in now-vanished gallery forest along the Santa Cruz River, is today found higher up in riparian vegetation along still-flowing mountain streams.

One of the gems of the Mountain Empire is the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area: 45,000 acres of rolling grasslands, oak-studded hills, along with the Cienegas Creek wetlands. This is home to the world’s largest population of endangered Gila topminnow and other federally threatened and endangered fish, frogs and snakes. Las Cienegas provides a vital corridor of protected lands that connects the Santa Rita and Whetstone sky islands.

The most revered animal in the Mountain Empire is El Jefe, a powerful male jaguar. Video of him prowling along a stream in the Santa Rita Mountains recently went viral, with at least 20 million viewers. He and other jaguars and ocelots most likely came north to the U.S. from Sonora, Mexico in the past decade, travelling along sky island mountain corridors with little human activity.

jaguar

Jaguar, © Barry Draper

Threats to the Empire

Sadly, as much healthy habitat as there is in this region, there’s also a problem: Industrial mining. The Mountain Empire is riddled with old abandoned mines and grandiose plans for new ones. As you can imagine, mining has a massive impact on an ecosystem, from the land itself, to the noise that can scare wildlife away, to the traffic that would come in and out of the mining project. And perhaps most importantly, there’s the water.

Throughout the Southwest, so much groundwater has been pumped for agriculture, industry, and towns and cities that water tables have dropped and streams and ponds have dried up, desiccating wildlife habitat in a land already parched. This is why so many water-dependent species have vanished, or are threatened or endangered. In Arizona, 20 of 35 surviving native fish species are endangered and one is already extinct. Mining presents yet another threat to the water supply, using up billions of gallons of groundwater over the course of years, and often contaminating it with pollutants.

santa-rita-mts

Santa Rita Mts, © Larry Jones/USFS

The diversity of the “sacred” Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest is threatened by mining interests.

The giant open-pit Rosemont Mine is planned for the Mountain Empire’s Santa Rita Mountains, where it would destroy habitat that is home to El Jefe and endangered ocelots. It would also decrease the water for the topminnow and other species in the Las Cienegas wetlands.

Two other mines are planned for the Patagonia Mountains in the center of the Mountain Empire. A Canadian company (ironically called Arizona Mining) is planning the Hermosa mine, which means beautiful in Spanish. There is nothing beautiful about this proposed silver mine: If done by the most economical open-pit method, it would gash a huge 4,000 foot wide hole in the mountains and dump the waste rock on the ground. A recent study by Earthworks and the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance estimated that an open-pit mine here would take as much as 1.2 billion gallons of water per year from nearby streams and wells, harming wildlife as well as the local economy, which is based largely on ranching and tourism. Exploratory drilling (to prove the minerals are worth mining) is already taking place right next to Harshaw Creek, up against the protected activity center for a pair of threatened Mexican spotted owls and habitat for threatened yellow-billed cuckoos.

Thankfully, none of these projects are going unchallenged. Defenders and the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance (PARA) are currently reviewing and preparing formal federal comments on a proposal by Arizona Mining to expand exploratory drilling onto Forest Service land. Last year, Defenders and PARA also joined in a lawsuit that overturned the Forest Service’s illegal approval of plans by another mining company, Regal Resources, to drill exploration cores along Harshaw Creek.

The Mountain Empire is an irreplaceable landscape in the Southwest. Defenders will keep working with local activists to monitor toxic spills and stop illegal mining that would harm the jaguars, ocelots, and other rare species that make it their home.

rob-peters-staff-profile-125x123Rob Peters, Senior Representative, Southwest Office
As a jack-of-all trades in the Tucson Office, Rob collaborates with the Defenders Renewable Energy Group, helping evaluate and influence renewable energy policies and projects to ensure that renewable energy is developed wisely, with minimum harm to natural ecosystems. He also works on jaguar issues, helping plan for the eventual return of a viable population in the U.S., and he is the lead on Defenders efforts to safeguard Arizona’s Mountain Empire, a Defenders’ priority area surrounding the town of Patagonia. This area contains some of the last best native grasslands in the Southwest, along with important habitat for jaguar, Mexican spotted owl, and other endangered species.

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Due Date October 11 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/due-date-october-11/ Wed, 28 Sep 2016 19:12:56 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7192 Scoping Comments Due Date Show the Forest Service that the community cares! Your level of concern is considered when the Forest Service makes decisions. The Patagonia Area Resource Alliance held a scoping comment workshop on Arizona Mineral’s Hermosa-Taylor deposit drilling project with Eva Sargent last Sunday in Cady Hall. The biggest news to come out […]

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Scoping Comments Due Date

Show the Forest Service that the community cares!

Your level of concern is considered when the Forest Service makes decisions.

The Patagonia Area Resource Alliance held a scoping comment workshop on Arizona Mineral’s Hermosa-Taylor deposit drilling project with Eva Sargent last Sunday in Cady Hall.

The biggest news to come out since meeting is the comment due date. It is Tuesday, October 11
Multiple conversations and emails with the Forest Service during the last week finally paid off.  They have realized their errors in issuing the public Scoping Notice comment period for the proposed Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project.

The proper deadline for comments for this proposed Project is October 11, 2016.

Comments received after this date may not be given full consideration and will not provide the commenter standing for possible future administrative review.

How to Write Scoping Comments

This project will involve around-the-clock drilling for at least five months on public land in the Coronado National Forest — 8 exploratory drilling holes, three drilling pads, two temporary roads, lighting at night, the loss of 234 trees, and 400,000 gallons of water. 

The Forest Service is soliciting public comments on AMI’s plan. Help protect our community by insisting that all the impacts of the plan are fully analyzed.

Here are some points you may include in your letter. You don’t need to include them all, and please use your own words:

  • This proposal needs the thorough analysis of an Environmental Impact Statement.
  • The cumulative impacts of this new project and all the other public and private mining operations, exploratory drilling, road building and old leaking mines around our community are of great concern and must be analyzed together.
  • The cumulative impacts of this plan and other local mining operations on Patagonia’s municipal watershed must be carefully analyzed.
  • The water used by the project is a concern. Although it comes from a private well, the impacts on our aquifer and surface waters must be analyzed.
  • The analyses must include looking at the bond required for reclaiming the site after the drilling is complete – is this adequate assurance that sufficient clean up and remediation will occur?   What is the track record of AMI and the industry in general?
  • Are the plans for dealing with the waste water adequate? What is AMI’s track record on dealing with current unpermitted discharges from previous mines?
  • Day and night drilling noise is a concern for local residents and wildlife. These effects, along with the effect of night lighting on human and natural communities must be studied.
  • There are potentially significant disturbance impacts on endangered species including the Mexican spotted owl yellow billed cuckoo, jaguar, lesser long nosed bat, and ocelot. These must be fully analyzed.

Please send your letter by October 11th to:
Coronado National Forest
Attn: Minerals and Geology Staff Re: Hermosa-Taylor
300 W Congress St, 6th Floor
Tucson AZ  85701

Electronic submission:  See  http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=50097

LEARN MORE: Project Website: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=50097

And Due to Its Popularity, We Are Also Including “Significant”

The Forest Service plans an Environmental Assessment (EA) level of review for this proposed project. This level of review can lead to two possible outcomes. One is that the project is approved with no further review. The other is the level of environmental review is stepped up to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This is the top tier level of environmental review and would be the best possible analysis of the impacts of this project on the Patagonia Mountains and surrounding community.

In order to step this process up to an EIS  level of review the impacts need to be determined as “significant.” Below is the detailed explanation of the manner in which the Forest Service determines Significance.

Establishing Significance – Definition of “Significantly” from 40 CFR 1508.27

Section 1508.27 Significantly.
“Significantly” as used in NEPA requires considerations of both context and intensity:

(a) Context. This means that the significance of an action must be analyzed in several contexts such as society as a whole (human, national), the affected region, the affected interests, and the locality. Significance varies with the setting of the proposed action. For instance, in the case of a site-specific action, significance would usually depend upon the effects in the locale rather than in the world as a whole. Both short- and long-term effects are relevant.

(b) Intensity. This refers to the severity of impact. Responsible officials must bear in mind that more than one agency may make decisions about partial aspects of a major action. The following should be considered in evaluating intensity:

  1. Impacts that may be both beneficial and adverse. A significant effect may exist even if the Federal agency believes that on balance the effect will be beneficial.
  2. The degree to which the proposed action affects public health or safety.
  3. Unique characteristics of the geographic area such as proximity to historic or cultural resources, park lands, prime farmlands, wetlands, wild and scenic rivers, or ecologically critical areas.
  4. The degree to which the effects on the quality of the human environment are likely to be highly controversial.
  5. The degree to which the possible effects on the human environment are highly uncertain or involve unique or unknown risks.
  6. The degree to which the action may establish a precedent for future actions with significant effects or represents a decision in principle about a future consideration.
  7. Whether the action is related to other actions with individually insignificant but cumulatively significant impacts. Significance exists if it is reasonable to anticipate a cumulatively significant impact on the environment. Significance cannot be avoided by terming an action temporary or by breaking it down into small component parts.
  8.  The degree to which the action may adversely affect districts, sites, highways, structures, or objects listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or may cause loss or destruction of significant scientific, cultural, or historical resources.
  9. The degree to which the action may adversely affect an endangered or threatened species or its habitat that has been determined to be critical under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
  10. Whether the action threatens a violation of Federal, State, or local law or requirements imposed for the protection of the environment.
The impacts of this project alone may not be deemed significant by the Forest Service. However, the Forest Service must consider the Cumulative Impacts of this project and other activities happening in the project area.

Your comment letter needs to include a request for the Forest Service to analyze the cumulative impacts of the following:

Cumulative Impacts

Cumulative impact is the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time.

Here is a list of other actions within the project area that need to be analyzed within the Environmental Assessment (EA).

Past:

  • Abandoned leaking mines throughout the project area
  • Exploratory Drilling for Hermosa Project in the project area— AMI/Wildcat Silver private land
  • Grazing in the project area
  • Border Patrol Activities in the project area

Present:

  • Abandoned leaking mines throughout the project area
  • Exploratory Drilling for the Taylor Deposit — AMI private land Trench Camp and Hermosa
  • Voluntary Remediation Program Passive Water Treatment for January Adit mining influenced Water
  • Grazing in the Project Area
  • Border Patrol Activities in the project area
  • Lead Queen Mine Remediation

Foreseeable Future:

  • Abandoned leaking mines throughout the project area
  • Exploratory Drilling for the Taylor Deposit
  • Voluntary Remediation Program Passive Water Treatment for January Adit mining influenced Water 30 year program
  • Open pit mine Hermosa Project and Underground mine Taylor Deposit
  • Lead Queen Mine Remediation
  • Border Patrol Activities in the project area
  • Grazing in the project area

Coming Up!!

The Patagonia Area Resource Alliance will have a significant presence at the Patagonia Fall Festival on October 7 – 9. Please plan to visit the booth and look for our “animal ambassador” — the jaguar!

If you’re interested in volunteering for PARA during the festival, we’re looking for booth staffers and folks to inhabit the animal ambassador costume.

For more information contact Nancy Coyote at rollinrhythm@gmail.com.

Make A Donation Online

Click the Donate Now button to make a secure, on-line donation with your credit card. Thank you!

 
Donations to the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. PARA respects the privacy of our donors. Donor information is confidential.

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Latest News From Arizona Mining Inc http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/latest-news-arizona-mining-inc/ Wed, 21 Sep 2016 16:55:16 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7179 Arizona Mining Inc has had 10 drill trucks for 24 hours/7 days a week since March on their private property. Now AMI is interested in drilling on public land, the Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project. This project is eight exploratory drill holes to obtain characterization of mineralization on the Coronado National Forest land — your land. […]

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Arizona Mining Inc has had 10 drill trucks for 24 hours/7 days a week since March on their private property. Now AMI is interested in drilling on public land, the Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project. This project is eight exploratory drill holes to obtain characterization of mineralization on the Coronado National Forest land — your land.

We are hosting a Comment Writing Workshop to help you comment on the project as an Environmental Assessment for the National Environmental Policy Act.

The AMI drillers working at night. Illuminated drill rigs are approximately four miles away. Photo taken from Red Mountain looking south.

 

Comment Writing Workshop

 

Sunday, September 25
2pm-4pm
Cady Hall

Please plan to attend our Comment Writing Workshop with Eva Sargent, formerly of Defenders of Wildlife.

We will be going over what you can say in your scoping comments to the Forest Service regarding AMI’s Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Deposit. The Forest Service is required to go through a public “scoping process” in order to determine the scope of issues that should be addressed in an EA or an Environmental Impact Statement. Scoping also helps the Forest Service determine the likely significance of an action’s impacts, and whether an EA or an EIS will be required.

Scoping is part of the procedures by which the Forest Service identifies important issues and determines the extent of analysis necessary for an informed decision on this proposal.

Scoping is part of the public involvement process. The issuance of a Scoping Notice marks the beginning of a public comment period, usually 30 days. Our scoping notice was dated September 7, 2016. Comments are due by October 6th.

Please read the Scoping Notice and Plan of Operations before the meeting. If you don’t have a copy you can get one here.

 

We will identify resources likely to be impacted.

This includes all the resources and values that are likely to be impacted by the proposed action, including:

  • Air quality
  • Water quality and quantity
  • Wildlife and vegetation, including endangered, threatened, and other special status species
  • Watersheds Floodplains, wetlands, and riparian areas
  • Cultural and Archeological resources
  • Visual resources and scenic values
  • Dark skies
  • Recreation
  • Transportation and traffic
  • Socioeconomic Impacts

It is extremely important that the Forest Service receives as many comments as possible. These comments will be used in preparation of a draft Environmental Assessment by the Forest Service. With NEPA, this is our first opportunity to voice our concerns. So let’s throw in the kitchen sink!

We will see you on Sunday, September 25 at 2pm-4pm at Cady Hall.

 

Coming Up

PARA will have a significant presence at the Patagonia Fall Festival October 7-9. Please plan to visit the booth and look for our “animal ambassador” — the jaguar!

If you’re interested in volunteering for PARA during the festival, we’re looking for booth staffers and folks to inhabit the animal ambassador costume.

For more information contact Nancy Coyote at rollinrhythm@gmail.com.

 

Make A Donation Online

Click the Donate Now button to make a secure, on-line donation with your credit card. Thank you!

 
Donations to the Patagonia Area Resource Alliance are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. PARA respects the privacy of our donors. Donor information is confidential.

The post Latest News From Arizona Mining Inc appeared first on Patagonia Area Resource Alliance.

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Writing NEPA Scoping Comments: EA or EIS projects http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/writing-nepa-scoping-comments-ea-eis-projects/ Thu, 15 Sep 2016 20:58:00 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7166 By Jenny Neeley, Attorney at Law   Introduction: National Environmental Policy Act & Scoping Process The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires all federal agencies to prepare a “detailed statement” on the impacts of any proposed action that may “significantly affect the quality of the human environment.”¹ This “detailed statement” can take one of two forms: […]

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By Jenny Neeley, Attorney at Law

 

Introduction: National Environmental Policy Act & Scoping Process

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires all federal agencies to prepare a “detailed statement” on the impacts of any proposed action that may “significantly affect the quality of the human environment.”¹ This “detailed statement” can take one of two forms:

  1. Environmental Assessment (EA), a brief analysis used to determine the significance of impacts resulting from a federal action, or
  2. Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a detailed and thorough analysis used for those actions that are expected to result in significant impacts.

Federal agencies are required to go through a public “scoping process” in order to determine the scope of issues that should be addressed in an EA or EIS. Scoping also helps the agency determine the likely significance of an action’s impacts, and whether an EA or an EIS will be required.

 

What to Include in NEPA Scoping Comments

The scoping period is the best time to identify all the issues and resources that the agency must consider when preparing an EA or EIS, as well as the potential impacts the proposed action may have on those resources.

 

Identify resources likely to be impacted.

This includes all the resources and values that are likely to be impacted by the proposed action, including:

  • Air quality
  • Water quality and quantity
  • Wildlife and vegetation, including endangered, threatened, and other special status species
  • Wildlife movement corridors
  • Soils
  • Watersheds Floodplains, wetlands, and riparian areas
  • Cultural and Archeological resources
  • Visual resources and scenic values
  • Dark skies
  • Recreation
  • Transportation and traffic
  • Public safety
  • Socioeconomic Impacts

 

Identify potential impacts resulting from proposed action.

The scoping period is also the best time to identify all the potential impacts that are likely to result from the proposed action. The potential impacts will vary depending on the specific activity being proposed, and can include ecological, aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, and health related impacts. When assessing potential impacts, the agency must look at:

  • Direct impacts: “are caused by the action and occur at the same time and place;”
  • Indirect impacts: “are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed in distance, but are still reasonably foreseeable (e.g., induced changes in land use patterns, population density, and related effects on natural resources and ecosystems);” and
  • Cumulative impacts: “the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of what agency or person undertakes such actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time.” ²

REMEMBER: You don’t have to do the analysis for the agency. At the scoping stage, you just need to identify the issues and potential impacts that must be analyzed. You should also submit any research or supporting documentation that is relevant to assessing the significance of the project’s potential impacts. The agency is obligated to consider this material when drafting the EA or EIS.

 

Act Now: Hermosa-Taylor Deposit Drilling Project Scoping Notice and Plan of Operation.

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1 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 USC § 4332(C) (1982).
2 Council for Environmental Quality, NEPA Implementing Regulations, 40 CFR § 1508.8 (2010).

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Repairs to be Performed on Lead Queen Mine Closure http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/repairs-performed-lead-queen-mine-closure/ Thu, 01 Sep 2016 16:40:26 +0000 http://www.patagoniaalliance.org/?p=7151 Release Date: Sep 1, 2016 The Coronado National Forest is designing a system to augment environmental cleanup work previously performed at the Lead Queen Mine on the Sierra Vista Ranger District. An unusually wet summer monsoon season in 2014 contributed to colored runoff in some drainages in the Patagonia Mountains. This included waters tinted white, […]

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USFSRelease Date: Sep 1, 2016

The Coronado National Forest is designing a system to augment environmental cleanup work previously performed at the Lead Queen Mine on the Sierra Vista Ranger District.

An unusually wet summer monsoon season in 2014 contributed to colored runoff in some drainages in the Patagonia Mountains. This included waters tinted white, yellow, orange and red flowing from the Lead Queen Mine adit, indicating release and oxidation of mineralized waters and sediment.

An environmental cleanup was completed in February, 2016 to reduce or eliminate downstream movement of waste rock containing elevated concentrations of arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals, and to prevent acid mine drainage from entering into Harshaw Creek.

Adits and shafts were closed with polyurethane foam or bat-friendly metal gates. Waste rock was placed in a consolidation cell and capped. Wire gabion baskets were installed downstream of the main adit. Burlap bags filled with zeolite were placed inside the baskets to remove heavy metals and trap sediment particles.

Lead Queen gabionOn or about August 9, a short-duration, high-intensity precipitation event on the order of a five- year event (based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration point precipitation frequency estimates, and radar data) passed through the area, resulting in damage to the completed work.

Forest engineering, minerals and geology staff and U.S. Geological Survey scientists inspected and evaluated the damage, and determined a more sustainable and robust system was needed to meet project goals.

Coronado National Forest personnel are assembling a team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists and U.S. Forest Service professionals with expertise in remediation of similar conditions. Once in place, the team will design the improved system and identify a timeline to implement the project.

Further developments will be announced through future news releases.

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