BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 516

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)

top view of the rear of a vehicle face-down in a mine shaft
An off-road vehicle finds itself 15 feet down an abandoned mine in 2006. The driver was not traveling on a designated route. Luckily, he suffered only minor injuries.

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.

a metal framework guards a mine shaft
Gates and grates secure this abandoned mine.

people look down into a large hole covered by a metal grate
This cupola helps keep visitors safe.

metal bars block a mine shaft entrance
Mine adit with gate.

- Joya Szalwinski, interpretive park ranger, BLM El Centro Field Office, Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (January 31, 2012)

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 516 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.