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NOAA Restoration Center
Damage Assessment Restoration Program
Blackbird Mine is an inactive mine located in the Panther Creek watershed, a tributary of the Salmon River in east central Idaho. Contamination of Panther Creek, with high levels of copper and other hazardous materials, eliminated Chinook salmon (listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act) from the watershed in the early 1960s. The wilderness landscape is marred by 4.8 million tons of waste rock, 2 million cubic yards of tailings and an 11.5 acre unreclaimed open pit. The surface of the mountaintop has been removed and over 10 miles of underground workings honeycomb the mountain. Mine tailings and waste rock are distributed over 128 acres of the mine site and surrounding National Forest area. Pollution problems are readily apparent in the surrounding creeks, where high levels of copper turn the water and rock an unnatural blue.
Contaminated waste rock at Blackbird Mine. Note the erosion gulleys. The wasterock has been stabilized as part of the remediation.
A view of Bucktail drainage basin. An open pit in the upper right hand area.Waste rock deposited throughout the basin.
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