By Emily Olson
Special to The PREVIEW
The San Juan Mining Conference will celebrate its fourth year of free, public education on April 24 and 25 in Creede. Held at the beautiful Repertory Theatre, this year’s conference will highlight the mining-water quality nexus and the interactions amongst mining, economics and community.
Speakers and tours will cover the science and policy of mining, mined lands remediation and water quality as it relates to non-point source pollution, improving mining practices and addressing water quality impairments. Participants will walk away with a greater awareness and scientific literacy regarding activities being conducted throughout the Colorado Rocky Mountains and resources available to stakeholders to participate in remediation and restoration within their local watersheds.
The conference kicks off Thursday morning with two in-depth workshops — the Colorado Data Sharing Network: An accessible and affordable toolkit for data management, analysis and sharing; and Heritage Tourism: Transforming legacy mines into community assets. Thursday afternoon’s tours will feature the restoration of Willow Creek and active operations of the Rio Grande Silver Mine. Friday’s talks will cover the diverse perspectives of mining and economics in San Juan Mountain communities and will delve into how industry weighs the risks and benefits of operating in the current economic and political atmosphere. Talks will also feature an analysis of the boom-bust cycle and microeconomic impacts of mining as applied to the San Juan Mountain region, what Superfund designation means for Creede, and how small communities are attracting the world’s great problem solvers to help address vexing challenges present on the landscape. The afternoon’s sessions will focus on water quality research, remediation with in situ amendments, and case studies of the clean-up of legacy mine sites, with specifics on water quality improvements.
This year’s conference is hosted by Willow Creek Restoration Committee, Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership and Mountain Studies Institute. The agenda boasts 16 speakers from diverse backgrounds, including professionals from industry, government, academia and nonprofits. To be as inclusive as possible in the discussion, the conference is free and open to the public. Generous financial contributions from the CDPHE’s Non-Point Source 319 Program, Department of Reclamation Mining and Safety, Mineral County, Creede Community Fund, Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Caldera Mineral Resources, Newmont Corporation, Rio Grande Silver, Inc., Ed and Paige Innerarity Family, and Charlie Marshall have kept it free this year.
Visit www.uncompahgrewatershed.org or www.willowcreede.org for details and free registration.