The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages approximately 261 million acres of public lands, and there are an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 abandoned mines within their jurisdiction. Of this total, around 4 to 5 percent are causing environmental problems because of contaminated surface and ground water, stockpiled waste rock and tailings, contaminated soils, and stored chemicals or leaking containers. The BLM has done partial inventories of the abandoned mines on the public lands they manage.
The BLM began their work on abandoned mine reclamation with watershed-based pilot projects on the Boulder River in Montana and the Animas River in Colorado. To carry out these projects, the agency relies heavily on partnerships, working with states, community groups, and other federal agencies, and relies on a variety of federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and Comprehensive Environmental Response Control and Liability Act (CERCLA). Through annual appropriations, the BLM receives around 10 million dollars for its abandoned mine reclamation program.
Through 2002, the BLM had completed 78 abandoned mine clean up projects, with a focus on improving water quality. In 2003, the BLM was involved in 120 sites in 31 watersheds in 12 States. The BLM's Strategic Plan calls for implementation of water quality improvement programs on BLM lands in 20% of watersheds that do not meet State or Tribal water quality standards. Their goal is to remediate 375 abandoned mine sites by (?).
BLM – Abandoned Mines