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WINNEMUCCA: Abandoned mine land closures begin

By ThisIsReno

BLM NEWS RELEASE

WINNEMUCCA — Work will begin Thursday to close nearly 80 abandoned mines located throughout Humboldt and Pershing counties.  The nearly $1.5 million project will increase public safety and bring an influx of capital to northwestern Nevada through the summer of 2012.

The project is a result of collaboration among the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Winnemucca District, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Army Corps of Engineers (Corp), and the Nevada Division of Minerals.

“This project is part of an ongoing effort to close or mitigate abandoned mine hazards on public lands and to protect public safety and the environment,” said BLM District Manager Gene Seidlitz. “The BLM, in cooperation with other federal and state agencies, seals numerous dangerous sites each year to reduce hazards to people who use and enjoy the public lands.”

The abandoned mine program is continuously seeking and closing dangerous old mine hazards statewide, with special attention to those close to inhabited places and areas of high public use.   About 15,000 of the estimated 50,000 dangerous sites in Nevada have been discovered, inventoried, and fenced; and nearly 600 are permanently closed.

This latest round of closures was made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which provided $3 billion to the Department of the Interior.  Of that amount, $320 million in funding went to the BLM. Other projects like this have provided significant benefits to local communities by workers staying in hotels, dining in restaurants, buying supplies, and making purchases in stores.

The ARRA funds are part of a stimulus package that is an important component of the President’s plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century.  Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America’s timeless treasures—our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage—while helping American families and their communities prosper again.  Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.

The targeted abandoned mine sites have had cultural and biological surveys completed.  The Corp conducted the survey though an interagency agreement with the BLM.  The closure work will be completed by the BOR out of Boise, Idaho.  In addition, bat surveys were recently completed and there is a need for bat compatible closures at up to 29 of the 79 locations.  The remaining 50 sites would be closed permanently by backfilling with waste rock materials and/or foam closure.

The BLM strongly encourages the public to avoid abandoned mine shafts and openings.  Abandoned mines can contain toxic chemicals, lethal air and steep drops.  Remember to stay out and stay alive.

For more information on the survey, please contact Ken Loda at 775-623-1500 or by email at [email protected].