|Office of the Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2008
Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne Presents Animas River Stakeholders Group in Colorado With Cooperative Conservation Award for Earth Day
WASHINGTON, D.C.— At a ceremony in the nation's capital today, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recognized the Animas River Stakeholders Group in Colorado as one of 21 recipients nationwide of the Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award.
The 21 awards recognized the work of more than 700 groups and individuals who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.
"These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our Department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence," Secretary Kempthorne said. "They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangelands and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation."
The award to the Animas River Stakeholders Group recognizes the partnership's outstanding contributions to improve water quality and aquatic habitats in the Animas River Watershed in Southwest Colorado. Due to the potential health hazard posed by runoff from mine tailings, the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies had considered declaring the area a Superfund Site. However, the progress made by the stakeholders group in reducing pollution levels has convinced the agencies not to take formal action as long as the group continues to demonstrate significant results. By leveraging resources, the group has raised more than $35 million for remediation activities and more than $3 million of in-kind volunteer support.
"The group completed approximately 50 mining remediation projects in the Animas River Watershed addressing drainage from mine entries and waste site concerns," the award noted. "Nearby communities have seen benefits from the group's remediation activities, including an overall increase in water quality, the downstream establishment of two species of trout, and signs of resurgence in recreation-based tourism."
The Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and Federal, State, local, and/or tribal governments.
"This is a fitting start to a week of Earth Day activities," the Secretary told the crowd at the main Interior auditorium. "If anyone were to ask me why America is the world leader in conservation of natural resources, I would simply point to the people in this auditorium. You are the spirit and you are the hands of cooperative conservation."
Animas River Stakeholders Group (Colorado) Nominated by the Bureau of Land Management