U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
News.bytes Extra, issue 284
Northeast California RAC gets taste of minerals
Members of the BLM's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council got a taste in what's involved in mineral extraction, when they toured Dicalite Industries' diatomaceous earth mining operation near Lake Britton, northwest of Burney on Thursday, May 31. While the mining operation is not active on BLM-managed public land (the Alturas Field Office manages adjacent public land), the RAC accepted the invitation to tour the mine as a way to learn more about the mining, reclamation and processing operations that can occur when the BLM issues leases for saleable minerals mining.
Below, Dicalite Operations Manager Rocky Torgrimson, fifth from left, explains quarry operations. The deposit of diatomaceous earth is clearly visible in the background. In the second photo, Dicalite employee Paul Budesa shows an intact pine cone that was embedded in a volcanic "nodule" unearthed from the diatomite deposit.
Both photos by Frank Bayham, member, Northeast CA RAC
The pine cones were found in association with pine tree remains, including standing trees buried by the diatomite deposit. The remains are believed to be more than a million years old. They have sparked interest in the scientific community. An article about the Burney area discovery was published in "California Geology" in 1999.
Geologists believe that the trees were drowned by the rising water of ancestral Lake Britton about 1.8 million years ago. Scientists believe that over hundreds of thousands of years, free floating diatoms (microscopic, one-celled plants) died and sank to the late bottom, burying the standing trees. This layer of diatoms formed the deposit of diatomite, or diatomaceous earth, that is being mined today for a wide variety of industrial filtration uses. Dicalite has been mining and processing the material since the late 1980s and markets the products worldwide.
The advisory council consists of 15 members who represent a wide range of public land interests including livestock grazing, recreation, environmental groups, wild horse and burro interest groups, the timber and wood products industry, history and archaeology interests, local government, the academic sector and the public at large. Working with BLM managers in Alturas, Susanville and Cedarville, they provide advice to the secretary of the interior, through the BLM California state director, on natural resource conservation topics. Most recently they have advised on development of new land use plans for nearly three million acres of BLM-managed public land in northeast California and northwest Nevada.
The council meets three to four times a year in locations across northeast California. Their next meeting is October 4-5 in Cedarville. Meetings and tours are always open to the public.
- Jeff Fontana, 6/07
|Last updated: 06-06-2007|
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