Trout Unlimited (TU) has created a long-term approach for the reclamation and restoration of abandoned hardrock mines across the West. Through a combination of scientific information, community outreach, and partnerships, the principal goal of this initiative is to help anglers, sportsmen, and outdoor enthusiasts make abandoned mineland restoration a priority for States, federal agencies, and Congress.
TU’s program includes a resource website, training programs, outreach materials, and the services of several full-time staff members. The program features an active mine restoration project on the American Fork in Utah, which highlights a national partnership between TU and the Forest Service. To ameliorate threats to public health and fish and wildlife habitat throughout the west, TU is actively educating citizens about the threats posed by abandoned hard rock mines and helping them develop restoration plans for mines that negatively impact their communities. For more information about TU’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, contact Rob Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A mine is any attempt to extract minerals or other materials from the ground. The most common mines in the West are hardrock mines, which extract copper, gold, iron ore, lead, molybdenum, phosphate rock, platinum, potash, silver, uranium, and zinc. Therefore, an abandoned mine is one of these former extraction sites that has been deserted by the operator, has no regular maintenance, and is not covered by a registered mining claim.
There are more than 500,000 abandoned mines throughout the western United States. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at least 40 percent of mountain streams in the West have been adversely affected by hard rock mining, for a total of more than 16,000 miles. Abandoned mines degrade water quality and cause significant concerns to fish, wildlife, and human health in every western state. Much of this damage occurs on public lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.