Project Scoping Underway for Assessment of Abandoned Mine Lands
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406-888-5838
Contact: Wade Muehlhof, 406-888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. - Superintendent Chas Cartwright has announced that an environmental assessment will be prepared for correcting health and safety hazards at abandoned mine lands in Glacier National Park. This project is eligible for funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Like other regions in the American West, during the mid- to late 19th century to early 20th century, the area which is now Glacier National Park was prospected for gold, silver and copper. Mining districts were established, and innumerable prospect pits, adits or horizontal entrances, and shafts were opened to test or mine what turned out to be marginal deposits. Glacier’s mine features are located within recommended wilderness in the park’s backcountry.
Studies are being conducted to determine whether the mines provide important wildlife habitat, and are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The main hazards associated with abandoned mines include the possibility of falling into shafts, loose rock or decayed timbers falling from the roofs of adits, deadly gas such as high radon concentrations, lack of oxygen, unstable explosives, and cave-ins.
The objective of the project is to correct health and safety hazards at the abandoned mines in order to reduce exposure of park visitors to the dangers posed at these sites, while preserving natural and cultural resource values. Coronado National Memorial, Grand Canyon National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Saguaro National Park are also conducting scoping and preparing EA’s on this issue.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide the decision-making framework that 1) explores a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives, 2) evaluates potential issues and impacts to park resources and values, and 3) identifies mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.
The NPS encourages public participation throughout the NEPA process during which the public has two opportunities to comment on this project; once during initial project scoping and again following release of the EA. Park managers are currently in the scoping phase of this project, and invite the public to voice their ideas, comments, or concerns about this effort. These comments will be considered during preparation of the EA.
This project is funded by the ARRA which will invest $750 million in nearly 800 projects throughout the country. Recovery Act projects were selected through a rigorous process that identified projects meeting specific criteria to address the highest priority mission needs; create the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and create lasting value for the American people. The abandoned mine lands projects in a number of parks were selected because they will address high priority health and human safety concerns.
The public scoping brochure is available electronically at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov for Glacier National Park. Comments can be submitted online at the PEPC website (the preferred method) or mailed to the parks. Scoping comments will be accepted through September 14, 2009.
Did You Know?
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in the park with a length of 10 miles and a depth of 472 feet. The glacier that carved the Lake McDonald valley is estimated to have been around 2,200 feet thick.