Water resources are scarce in the Grand Canyon region. The containment ponds at the mines provide a reliable water source to biota in the area. Biological information in and around the mine sites is limited; therefore, surveys to document species presence and usage of the area provide critical information for addressing environmental effects of uranium mining.
Conduct surveys twice a month to document resident and migrant bird species in and around the mine.
Surveys were conducted adjacent to the mine (outside the fenced areas) at
- Arizona 1 and Pinenut Mines from March - October 2015.
- Pinyon Plain (formerly Canyon) Mine in 2014.
- Water was present in the ponds during all surveys, and presence of emergent aquatic vegetation at all mine sites suggested that the ponds were a consistent water source (likely due to the pond linings).
- We observed 107 bird species at three uranium mine sites during 41 surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015. Bird species were assigned to one of four resident status categories: winter residents, migrants (i.e., not breeding residents), summer breeding residents, or year-round residents.
- We observed 35 species of birds (aquatic and non-aquatic species) directly using the mine containment ponds including species of conservation concern, Pinyon Jay, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus, and Brewer’s Sparrow Spizella breweri.
- We observed pond use by 3 bird species at Arizona 1 Mine, 26 species at Canyon Mine, and 9 species at Pinenut Mine. Our surveys identified no single species using containment ponds at all three mine sites.
- Documenting use of these ponds by wildlife allows for a new understanding of possible pathways by which contaminants may enter local food webs.
Compile/evaluate existing and newly collected monitoring data from various agencies/sources
Albers, J.L., Wildhaber, M.L., Green, N.S., Hinck, J.E., Gatlin, B., and Langston, S., 2021, Breccia pipe uranium mine bird survey data, Grand Canyon region, 2014-2015: U.S. Geological Survey data release https://doi.org/10.5066/F75D8R5P