Gila Watershed Partnership presented with 2019 Excellence in Reclamation award for Agave salvage in Grant County, New Mexico

Plants to be used in mine reclamation areas and non-mining areas for improved bat habitat

Photo By Julie Davis: Kara Barron, left, and Steve Plath of the Gila Watershed Partnership display the 2019 reclamation award while standing in front of agaves salvaged from the roundup in Grant County, New Mexico.

Contributed Article

Photo By Julie Davis: The 2019 Excellence in Reclamation Award is displayed next to some of the salvaged agave plants.

SAFFORD – The Mining and Minerals Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) presented the 2019 Excellence in Reclamation Awards to two projects. One of those awards was presented to Gila Watershed Partnership, Freeport McMoRan Chino Mines, Borderlands Restoration Network, and Bat Conservation International for their successful “Agave Roundup in Grant County” project that salvaged more than 750 agave plants for use in mine reclamation areas and non-mining areas for the benefit of improved bat habitat and environmental awareness.

“The awards this year are presented to projects and initiatives deserving special recognition,” said Todd Leahy, Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department who presented the awards. “The Agave Roundup Project was an innovative effort that went above and beyond the reclamation conditions of the mine permit. We applaud their successes.”

The agave salvage project took place on May 22, 2019, at Chino Mine outside of Silver City, NM. Two of Gila Watershed Partnership’s staff participated in the agave salvage project: Steve Plath, Gila Native Plant Nursery Manager, and Kara Barron, Science and Outreach Manager. Kara Barron stated, “It took a small army to get that many agaves out of the ground and we were happy to be a part of this effort.” Gila Watershed Partnership brought back 200 of the salvaged agave and are currently being taken care of in the Gila Native Plant Nursery, under the care of Steve Plath until they are ready to be used for restoration projects associated with the Safford and Morenci mines.

Contributed Photo: The agaves were placed into truck beds and trailers for transport.

Instituted in 1996, the Excellence in Reclamation Award recognizes excellence and innovation in coal, hard rock, and aggregate mine reclamation and abandoned mine land reclamation projects and other related efforts or initiatives deserving special recognition. The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department presents the awards at the annual New Mexico Mining Association Conference.

Founded in 1992 and headquartered at Eastern Arizona Discovery Park Campus, The Gila Watershed Partnership is a boots-on-the-ground, field-based conservation organization. GWP’s mission is to engage the community in improving the water quality and ecosystem condition of the Upper Gila Watershed through education and economic opportunity.

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