Personal GeoDatabase Feature Class

Description Spatial Attributes

Theme: U.S. Forest Service, Abandoned Mine, Colorado, Environmental Hazard

U.S. Forest Service Abandoned Mine Land Inventory Project - Colorado

	The Colorado Geological Survey completed an inventory of environmental degradation associated with abandoned and inactive mines on National Forest System lands in Colorado during the years 1991 through 1999. In the course of the inventory, areas with natural acid rock drainage were also noted. Approximately 18,000 abandoned mine-related features were inventoried, including about 900 features that are considered significant enough environmental problems to warrant further investigation. Water quality data, such as pH and conductivity were gathered at all features where water was present, such as draining adits, seepage at the toe of dumps and tailings, and standing water in shafts. Water samples were taken where field tests indicated low pH and/or high conductivity, including several areas with natural acid rock drainage. Samples were analyzed for dissolved and total metals, and for selected anions. All mine locations and data collected by the field geologists were entered on field forms and, subsequently, into a computer database and GIS format.

	With the information provided by the inventory, the Forest Service, in cooperation with other agencies, has been able to prioritize abandoned mines for reclamation. In most cases, cleanup is approached on a watershed basis. Mines in priority watersheds were selected for reclamation first. Watershed studies and mine cleanup are taking place or have been completed in the upper Animas River, Willow Creek (tributary to the upper Rio Grande), Chalk Creek (tributary to the upper Arkansas River), the upper Snake River, the Uncompahgre River, the Alamosa River, and additional Colorado watersheds.

	During the inventory, evidence of natural water quality degradation was found in areas where little or no evidence of mining activity exists. These areas include the upper Alamosa River, the Middle Fork of Mineral Creek, Peekaboo Gulch, Handcart Gulch, and elsewhere. Water from natural sources has been found to exceed Colorado water quality standards significantly for several metals in these areas and must be considered in reclamation decisions and remedial activities.

Authorship & Personnel:

Principal Investigator:  Matthew A. Sares

Geographic Information System Coordinator:  Randal C. Phillips

John T. Neubert

Robert H. Wood II

Jonathan R. Lovekin

Robert M. Kirkham

Robert G. Benson

Douglas A. Fehlmann

Randall K. Streufert

Clarence E. Ellis

Jonathan L. White

Andrew J. Flurkey

Peter W. Nichols

Christopher Lawson

John P. Cann, IV

Peter Stelling

S. Donald Brown

Peter A. Dodson 

Joseph Klein

J.T. Harris

Michael J. Satre

William M. Sheriff

GIS Administration:  Jason Wilson, Nick Watterson, William James

The information in this digital dataset and the associated summary reports for each USFS Ranger District are useful for State and Federal agencies in prioritizing mine land reclamation and environmental remediation activities on a statewide basis.  The data will also be helpful in developing realistic and cost-effective site reclamation plans on the local level.


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