News.bytes Extra, issue 584
Abandoned Mine Lands Around Fremont Peak
BLM Geologist Jamie Livingood (left) and Jason Langteau (Surface Compliance Technician) stand next to a new cupola installed over a dangerous mine shaft in the Fremont Peak District. (photo: S. White)
The historic mining of hardrock minerals -- such as gold, lead, copper, silver, and uranium -- was a powerful incentive for exploration and settlement of California. Mineral development often provided the economic base on which many remote communities, like Randsburg, were established. But when ore bodies were mined out and miners left to find other new deposits, they often left behind a legacy of abandoned mines -- adits, shafts, and trenches.
A primary goal of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Department of Conservations Abandoned Mine Land Unit (DOC) is to provide the public safe experiences when visiting public lands in the Mojave Desert. The BLM and DOC have another primary goal: to assure that mining-related features and facilities abandoned on public land are remediated to minimize damage to the natural environment – while recognizing and protecting the historical importance of selected features and facilities.
Many of the mines in the Fremont Peak District were constructed between the 1880s to the early 1900s, including the Monarch-Rand Mine. This mine -- like many around it -- can harbor hidden openings that can drop many feet down. “Rotting timbers and unstable rock formations make falls a real danger” says Jamie Livingood, Geologist at the Barstow Field Office.
The Monarch-Rand mine complex is a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Specifically, the Monarch-Rand mine project area is located approximately 40 miles northeast of town of Mojave and 30 miles northeast of Kramer Junction along the western flanks of Fremont Peak.
"There are many opportunities to ride OHV's on the extensive trail system in this area," said Sterling White, BLM California Desert District AML Program. "We want our public to stay safe and be aware that mines are not playgrounds." More than a dozen dangerous mine features have been remediated this year in the area around Fremont Peak.
BLM may take temporary measures to mitigate against physical safety hazards, such as by posting warning signs and fencing. Additional remedial measures include closure of adits and shafts, backfilling of highwalls, drainage of impoundments, removal of leftover equipment and debris, and reclaiming to help offset erosion and improve stability. If during the site characterization BLM determines that remedial activities may have historical, cultural, or wildlife impacts, these must be addressed in conjunction with the remedial activities. To mitigate impacts to bats, gates and cupolas are often installed using designs that allow wildlife access to the underground.
Remember to ride safe and "Stay Out Stay Alive."
-- Sterling White, Abandoned Mine Lands and Hazmat Program Lead, BLM California Desert District (June 2013)
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