Aerial view of the Ray Mine site in Pinal County, Arizona. Multiple releases of hazardous substances from this mining site over the past 30 years injured natural resources and natural resource services in nearby Mineral Creek and Gila River. Photo credit: FWS.
On February 8, 2012, the State of Arizona and the Department of the Interior, represented by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, opened a 30-day public comment period for the “Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment for the Hazardous Substance Releases from the Hayden Smelter and Ray Mine Facilities.”
This Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment proposes a strategy and alternatives for restoring natural resources and natural resource services injured by hazardous substances released from the Ray Mine and the Hayden Smelter sites in Pinal County, Arizona. Collectively, the Ray Mine site and the Hayden Smelter site, located about 25 miles apart along the Gila River in central Arizona, are known as the Hayden Mine Complex. Injured natural resources at the sites include riparian, emergent and aquatic vegetation, aquatic insects and native fishes.
Restoration alternatives in the Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment are focused on 3 former ASARCO properties, totaling 995 acres, on the lower San Pedro River near the confluence with Aravaipa Creek. These properties along the river were conveyed to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission as part of the settlement with ASARCO L.L.C. for natural resource damage claims at the mining site and smelter. Altogether, the 3 properties comprise 500 acres of riparian habitat, 390 acres of upland habitat and 105 acres of agricultural fields. Under Arizona Game and Fish Department management, these properties will be open to limited hunting and other outdoor recreation, like hiking, nature photography and bird watching.
The deadline for submitting written comments on the Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment is Friday, March 9, 2012. Written comments received during the open comment period and the trustees' responses to these comments will be summarized in a Final Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment to be released in the future.