The mission of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is to provide reliable, impartial information to describe and understand the Earth and its resources. The agency’s Abandoned Mine Land Initiative began in 1997 using a watershed-based approach on the Boulder River in Montana and the Animas River in Colorado. Partnering with state agencies, federal authorities, and other organizations, USGS provided the hydrologic, geologic, and biologic information necessary to create effective, long term reclamation programs for these watersheds.
The USGS watershed approach involves four different stages: 1) statewide characterization and watershed prioritization, 2) watershed characterization, 3) mine site characterization, prioritization, and remediation/mitigation, and 4) monitoring. Based on the lessons they learned in Montana and Colorado, the USGS plans to use this science-based program in other states as further funding becomes available.
Numerous studies related to abandoned mine lands are being conducted by the USGS throughout the Western United States. These studies as well as pertinent publications are listed on the USGS Mine Drainage Interest Group website.
United States Geological Survey – Mine Drainage Interest Group
United States Geological Survey – Abandoned Mine Lands Initiative