News and Activities

Pinto Creek Restoration, Arizona

Date Posted: December 22, 1999

On October 22, 1997, more than 300,000 cubic yards of mine rock and tailings spilled into Pinto Creek, located in the Pinto Valley in Arizona, burying 8.1 acres of creek bed and surrounding upland with material as deep as 42 feet. A multi-agency task force including the Service, U.S. Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality was immediately organized to provide direction and support to BHP for restoration efforts. BHP Copper Mines responded quickly and worked around the clock removing debris until the area was completely cleared of mine tailings in July 1998. Hydroseeding and revegetation with native grasses and forbs have brought about a rapid recovery. By Spring 1999, perennial grasses and forbs were dense and cottonwood and willow pole-plantings were beginning to leaf out. Service recommendations for reestablishing algae in the affected area of the creek were very successful; fish, amphibians, and invertebrates have recolonized the area using algae for food and cover. The Service will continue to provide technical support and monitoring throughout the restoration process.

Tony Velasco, (602)640-2720

BHP Environment Report 1998: Pinto Valley slope failure.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Contaminants Program: Habitat Restoration

Last updated: June 12, 2015