Rosemont Copper has agreed to pay for relocating a segment of the Arizona Trail to avoid impacts of its planned mine southeast of Tucson - but that would happen only if the mine plans win federal approval.
The company announced that it would provide up to $650,000 to move a 10.6-mile segment of the 817-mile cross-state trail.
The segment is in the Santa Rita Mountains west of Arizona 83 near the proposed mine site.
Plans for work on the trail will depend on future decisions by the U.S. Forest Service, said Kathy Arnold, Rosemont vice president for environmental and regulatory affairs.
"The $650,000 is part of an agreement that Rosemont worked out with the Arizona Trail Association as a contribution to fund the relocation of the trail if the alternative chosen by the Forest Service will require such a trail move," Arnold said. "The plan and alternatives that Rosemont put forward did not necessitate a trail move. However, two of the alternatives being examined by the Forest Service, including the preferred alternative, require the trail to be moved."
Arnold confirmed that "no work on the trail would be started until the Forest Service makes its final decision."
Matthew Nelson, executive director of the Arizona Trail Association, said the group determined that it would be "wise, early on, to draw up this partnership with Rosemont."
"Our concern was preserving National Scenic Trail values - the view-shed and the landscape," Nelson said.
Plans call for moving a portion of the trail from west of Arizona 83 to the east side of the highway, he said.
"To be completely honest, it would be a better trail than the trail that's there now," Nelson said. "It would be better because the trail as originally built isn't as sustainable as the new segment might be."
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz