The persistence of heavy metals in the Animas watershed affects aquatic life along most of the Animas. Both creeks contain very high levels of sulfuric acid, which prevent aquatic organisms from living in them. , The spill changed the color of the river to orange, and the spill was described as "devastating" by Kim Stevens, the director of Environment Colorado, who said that businesses who rely on the river for profit might have to close down. Mining activity spread rapidly throughout the area. Juan River near Aztec, New Mexico(fig. are underlain by the Tertiary igneous intrusive and volcanic rocks that formed as a result of a The Animas river is a major white water rafting attraction accounting for 8.9% of Colorado's commercial rafting market while annually generating 45,411 commercial user days and direct expenditures of $5,207,033 (2011 est). be estimated from the distribution of mining claims and Minerals Availability System (MAS) Encyclopedia Staff, adapted from Preston Somers and Lisa Floyd-Hanna, “Wetlands, Riparian Habitats, and Rivers,” in The Western San Juan Mountains: Their Geology, Ecology, and Human History, ed. 1) has its headwaters in the mountainous terrain above Silverton, The geology exposed at the surface and underlying These tributaries contain dissolved iron and heavy metal volumes many times greater than what the Animas has absorbed above the mouths of the two creeks. Both rainbow trout and brown trout are present in this stretch of river. Rob Blair (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1996) and Tom Cech, “The Animas River Tragedy” (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2015). Some of the porphyry molybdenum deposits are surrounded The major population center As the train approaches Silverton, the stream bed changes from the usual dark olive color to light tan and finally to orange. Until recently, the Animas River—known in Spanish as “El Río de las Ánimas,” or “The River of Lost Souls”—was one of only a few undammed rivers in southwestern Colorado. The forested mountains, waterfalls, and wildflower valleys of La Plata Canyon lie just west of Durango. The extent of mining activity within various portions of the Animas River watershed can prospects in the Animas River drainage basin above Silverton, Colo. Animas River (On-e-mas) (Río de las Ánimas, in Spanish) is a 126-mile-long (203 km) river in the western United States, a tributary of the San Juan River, part of the Colorado River System. intense hydrothermal alteration and mineralization events postdate the formation of the records (Babitzke and others, 1982) within the basin. Water from the Animas irrigates many farms and furnishes towns with municipal water supplies. the Animas River watershed at various levels of activity until 1991 when the Sunnyside Mine was (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2011). The ancestral Puebloan site of Aztec Ruins National Monument is situated along the river in the present day town of Aztec and for much of its course the river flows through native Ute and Navajo lands. The mineral-rich geology of the San Juan Mountains profoundly shaped the natural and human histories of the Animas watershed. Spring and summer flows create whitewater sports and recreation opportunities. Animas trout average 12 to 16 inches (30 to 41 cm). , The Animas serves as habitat to resident and migratory bald eagles which arrive in the winter months to take advantage of the ice-free river. Larger trout in the 17 to 22 inches (43 to 56 cm) are occasionally caught by anglers. Animas Forks is a ghost town located just northeast of Silverton, Colorado. Southwestern Water Conservation District, Animas La-Plata Operation, Maintenance, & Replacement Association, and The Town of Durango. " The metals considered are "cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc, and possibly others. Deposits in the Red Mountain district  The spill contained the toxic metals arsenic, cadmium, and lead, as well as the metals aluminum and copper. This fact can be verified simply by observing the stream from the narrow-gauge Durango-Silverton train. Elevations range from The Animas River drainage basin has its headwaters in the mountainous terrain above Silverton, Colo. and drains south into the San Juan River in northern New Mexico. THE ANIMAS RIVER WATERSHED. On this tour, venture off-road in an open-top Jeep and enjoy spectacular views as … 1976). Miners moved large amounts of mineral-rich rocks to the surface of the earth. (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2013). This practice once caused severe pollution of the Animas River until mining engineers constructed tailing ponds to impound the mineral sludge. The town of Silverton,at an elevation of 9,318 feet along the Animas River, is the county seat and only incorporated town in San Juan County. Silverton caldera by several million years (Casadevall and Ohmoto, 1977). discovered in 1881. rugged mountainous area of the Animas Canyon. The The landscape around Animas Fork is impressive and in general the best time to visit is middle June to the end of September. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provides funding for the water quality data. The Animas River originates at Animas Forks northeast of Silverton at an elevation of 11,120 feet and flows southward to Farmington, New Mexico, where it joins the San Juan River, which ultimately flows to the Colorado. Recreational fishing with artificial lures and flies on the Animas is available year-round due to moderate winter weather. A Colorado State Historical Fund grant to San Juan County, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, provided for stabilization of the remaining structures in 1997 and 1998. , Spanish explorer Juan Maria de Rivera of Santa Fe recorded the name "Rio de las Animas" (in English, River of Souls) in 1765. Spending time on the river is one of the best summer activities here in Durango. The project pumps water over a low pass to fill a reservoir, Lake Nighthorse, in Ridges Basin to satisfy Southern Ute tribal water rights claims associated with the Colorado Ute Settlement Act amendments of 2000. Mineral deposits in (2015). Elevations range from more than 14,000 ft. at the headwaters to less than 6,000 ft. at the confluence with the San Juan River near Aztec, New Mexico.
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