Save Red Lady
High Country Conservation Advocates was formed in Crested Butte in 1977 as High Country Citizens’ Alliance to protect the 12,392’ Mt. Emmons (known locally as “Red Lady”) from the development of a massive molybdenum mine. Red Lady rises from the western edge of Crested Butte’s scenic National Historic District and is a favorite of skiers, sportsmen, and recreationists. In the course of 39 years, Red Lady has been the target of three mining proposals that HCCA successfully led the community’s fight to defeat. Today, HCCA is proud to stand with our community in a new era of this decades-long effort that is proving to be a promising path towards a permanently-mine free Red Lady and Upper Gunnison River watershed. Developments in the spring of 2016 led to a new owner, Mt. Emmons Mining Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan (MEMC/Freeport), of the private lands and ore body, as well as mining claims on federally managed land. Now for the first time, the owner of these interests states it intends to dispose of the private lands and ore body, as well as the mining claims on federally managed land. We are excited to roll-up our sleeves and dive into the details with all those involved to achieve a long-term, sustainable, and protective solution for our watershed and Red Lady.
An important aspect of our Red Lady Program in this new era includes our continued efforts to address the legacy of acid mine drainage from the old Keystone Mine. The old Keystone Mine is on private property owned by MEMC/Freeport, with mine tailings and water treatment for the Mine’s acid mine drainage located on Forest Service managed lands approximately three miles upstream of the Town of Crested Butte. Much of this work focuses on setting protective water quality standards for Coal Creek. To do this, HCCA engages in state hearing and rulemakings and collaborates with the Town, County, Coal Creek Watershed Coalition, state agencies, and MEMC/Freeport. We are looking forward to exploring with these stakeholders permanent actions that can be taken to eliminate and/or reduce acid mine drainage and other water quality issues the Keystone Mine has left in our watershed.