Empire, Colorado is located forty-two miles west of Denver, Colorado. North Empire Creek Basin, located north of Empire, once held one of the most affluent gold mining sites within Clear Creek County. As a result of the mining extraction and treatment processes, the land, surface waters, and plant life of the North Empire Creek Basin were contaminated.
North Empire Creek is a high-gradient drainage system with very steep side slopes, acid mine drainage and significant contamination from heavy metals. Past mining activities have included surface mining, hydraulic placer mining and lode mining.
Most of the area disturbed by mining is on the slopes to the west of the Creek. Surface-mined areas have also been developed along with shafts and adits mostly extending westward into hardrock workings. The hydraulic placer mining removed not only the topsoil, but even much of the subsoil from many of the west side slopes of the north-to-south flowing drainage. These placer-mined hill slopes would be almost impossible to restore and revegetate using any practical and affordable approaches for reclamation.
The focus of this Phase III Lower North Empire Creek Project to begin October 2017 is controlling runoff from severely impacted, virtually un-reclaimable, upland mined lands to the west of the creek. This, in addition to sediment containment, will aid in minimizing erosion and sediment yield from steep mining impacted slopes. Total funding for this restoration project is $477,460.