Midwest Region Summary

steel gate on mine opening
Bat gate mine closure and historic mining equipment at Buffalo National River, Arkansas.

NPS photo

July 2012

Of the 57 park units in the Midwest Region (MWR), only 19 contain evidence of past mining activity. The majority of MWR mining features are concentrated in a handful parks. There are 143 sites in the MWR, 80% of which are in six NPS units, with Buffalo National River (BUFF) in northwest Arkansas having by far the most. Along with BUFF, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CUVA) and Isle Royale National Park (ISRO) are the top three parks with the most abandoned mining features.

Although mining features are concentrated in a few parks, the minerals that were extracted and landscapes these sites are situated on are diverse. AML features at BUFF are the result of zinc and lead mining that took place in the 1880s. CUVA's features, in Ohio, are the consequence of oil and gas extraction, while copper was the predominate commodity extracted from the Great Lakes wilderness park, ISRO. Significant mining also took place at Voyagers National Park (VOYA) in Minnesota. Several of MWR park units have no more than very few sites, in many of these cases the features are sand and gravel barrow pits.

Considerable work to mitigate hazardous conditions has been undertaken throughout the region. For example between 1986 and 2009, 53 wells were plugged at CUVA. The staff at BUFF have worked diligently to install bat gates, signage and fencing at many of the remnant mining features throughout the park. Making these sites safe for visitors and protecting bat habitat has been and will continue to be a priority at BUFF. MWR park units have continued to protect and interpret the mining history and its remnants. Culturally significant sites have been protected at VOYA, ISRO and BUFF. AML mitigation projects in the MWR have been funded by park base funds, NRPP, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The most pressing AML need of the MWR is to continue to mitigate hazardous conditions and protect essential wildlife habitat. There is still work to be accomplished at BUFF, including the installation of bat gates and fencing. At CUVA there remains the need to plug abandoned wells and at ISRO much of the interior of the park needs to be inventoried for additional mining features.

Last updated: February 8, 2016


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