Copper mine rouses opposition

  • Pinto Creek near the proposed Carlota Mine

    Donna Goodale
  Flanked by massive cottonwoods and sycamores, Pinto Creek winds through the rugged mountains of central Arizona's Tonto National Forest. Its narrow valley is a haven for an endangered hedgehog cactus, it contains scores of archaeological sites and it may soon become an open-pit copper mine. That prospect has roused local protest and national criticism, yet the odds of stopping the Canadian-owned mine are slim.


Carlota Copper Co. plans to divert a section of the creek into a channel, then dredge the stream bed and surrounding riparian area to a depth of 600 feet. It would then fill Powers Gulch, an adjacent valley, with the resulting millions of tons of waste rock.


Some nearby residents have been pursuing legal routes to delay construction of the mine. Citizens for the Preservation of Powers Gulch and Pinto Creek has urged the Army Corps of Engineers to deny Carlota's dredge-and-fill permit on the basis that the mine is "not in the public interest." "That's not done very often," concedes Deborah Ham, attorney for the group. Yet if Pinto Creek is not one of the nation's spectacles, she says, the desert refuge is "symbolic of places that are worth preserving everywhere."


Pinto Creek has gained allies, among them, former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who said, "Pinto Creek is worth the strongest protection possible." The national environmental group American Rivers named it one of the country's 10 most endangered rivers last year, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency gave the copper mine its lowest possible rating. Forest Service officials, however, say their hands are tied by the 1872 Mining Law: They can't forbid the new mine as long as it complies with existing regulations. The forest's final environmental impact statement is expected this month.


For more information contact Citizens for the Preservation of Powers Gulch and Pinto Creek, P.O. Box 2694, Globe, AZ 85502 (520/425-4834); or http://learnweb.com/learnweb/azeenet.


High Country News Classifieds
  • FEATURES DIRECTOR - HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Features Director to join our editorial...
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • OWN A THRIVING MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE.
    Eastern Sierra guide service for sale to person with vision & expertise to take it onwards. Since 1995 with USFS & NPS permits. Ideal for...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...