Gila Watershed Partnership Presented 2019 Excellence in Reclamation Award

Kara Barron and Steve Plath of Gila Watershed Partnership, displaying 2019 Reclamation Award standing in front of agaves salvaged from "Agave Roundup in Grant County. (Photo by Julie Davis)

Award presented for Agave salvage in Grant County, NM

SAFFORD, AZ – September 20, 2019 – The Mining and Minerals Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) presented the 2019 Excellence in Reclamation Awards to two projects. One of those awards was presented to Gila Watershed Partnership, Freeport McMoRan Chino Mines, Borderlands Restoration Network, and Bat Conservation International for their successful “Agave Roundup in Grant County” project that salvaged more than 750 agave plants for use in mine reclamation areas and non-mining areas for the benefit of improved bat habitat and environmental awareness.

“The awards this year are presented to projects and initiatives deserving special recognition,” said Todd Leahy, Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department who presented the awards. “The Agave Roundup Project was an innovative effort that went above and beyond the reclamation conditions of the mine permit. We applaud their successes.”

The agave salvage project took place on May 22, 2019, at Chino Mine outside of Silver City, NM. Two of Gila Watershed Partnership’s staff participated in the agave salvage project: Steve Plath, Gila Native Plant Nursery Manger, and Kara Barron, Science and Outreach Manger. Kara Barron stated, “It took a small army to get that many agave out of the ground and we were happy to be a part of this effort.” Gila Watershed Partnership brought back 200 of the salvaged agave and are currently being taken care of in the Gila Native Plant Nursery, under the care of Steve Plath until they are ready to be used for restoration projects associated with the Safford and Morenci mines.

Instituted in 1996, the Excellence in Reclamation Award recognizes excellence and innovation in coal, hard rock and aggregate mine reclamation and abandoned mine land reclamation projects, and other related efforts or initiatives deserving special recognition. The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department presents the awards at the annual New Mexico Mining Association Conference.

The award presentation and information on previous award winners are posted on MMD’s website at:

Founded in 1992 and headquartered at Eastern Arizona Discovery Park Campus, The Gila Watershed Partnership is a boots-on-the-ground, field-based conservation organization. GWP’s mission is to engage the community in improving the water quality and ecosystem condition of the Upper Gila Watershed through education and economic opportunity.

Steve Plath (top, second from left) and Kara Barron (top, third from left) participated in “Agave Roundup in Grant County.”