U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Stay Out, Stay Alive! BLM El Centro targets abandoned mines
Hazards left behind from mining activities abandoned over the years will be getting some attention, thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Abandoned mine features, like uncovered holes, shafts or deteriorating mine entrances pose serious safety hazards to a number of recreation-related activities. The BLM's El Centro Field Office will use a number of methods to remedy and mitigate hazards to public safety at abandoned mine sites in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, while preserving habitat for some of the desert's most treasured wildlife. (text continues below)
How each abandoned mine will be made safe will depend on its condition and, ironically, the wildlife it shelters. When the miners moved out, wildlife moved in. Some mines house desert tortoise, a variety of bat species, owls and an assortment of reptiles. Once the mines have been surveyed for wildlife use (and any historic or cultural resources), gates, cupolas or grates may be installed at the entrance to allow free passage for wildlife. If the mine shows no indication that wildlife uses it, it may be back-filled with dirt, or filled with a polyurethane foam (puf). All of these methods are designed to prevent the public from accidentally (or intentionally) entering these played-out mines.
Samurai/Suzuki Hill, Turkey Vulture Mine and Padre Madre Mine, all within the Cargo Muchacho Mountains in Imperial County, California, are the areas targeted for the remediation. Visitors are reminded to travel on designated routes in these areas to avoid an abrupt and unwelcome encounter with an abandoned mine. Should you find an abandoned mine, stay out! Cave-ins, poison gases and falls are a few of the dangers these abandoned mines present. If possible, contact the BLM's El Centro Field Office with GPS coordinates of its location.
For more information on abandoned mines visit www.blm.gov/ca/cdd. For information on how to obtain off-road Routes of Travel maps for the El Centro Field Office, call 760-337-4400, or visit www.blm.gov/ca/elcentro.
- Joya Szalwinski, interpretive park ranger, BLM El Centro Field Office, Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (January 31, 2012)