The Abandoned Mine Reclamation Act
The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) administers the Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Act to reclaim lands affected by past mining activities in Idaho. The Act is written such that it is a voluntary program for reclaiming abandoned mines. The definition of an abandoned mine in the Act is, “a mine deserted by the operator, having no regular maintenance, and not covered by a valid mining claim.” Money from the fund may be spent on the reclamation of any eligible mining operation. An eligible mining operation is an abandoned mine on state or federal land, or an abandoned mine on private land when the owner of the land has requested, and the Department has granted, designation as an eligible mine. One-third of the Idaho Mine License Tax is diverted into a fund for reclaiming abandoned mines.
The Abandoned Mine Lands Program
IDL’s Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program promotes public safety by identifying dangerous conditions at mines that are no longer operating and by securing dangerous orphaned mine openings. IDL has worked cooperatively with the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service, and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to close dozens of mine openings. IDL has also assisted numerous private landowners by closing mine openings on their land.
IDL tries to address endangered species concerns during mine closures. This generally means bats. If work on a site will affect existing or potential bat habitat, then that work should allow continued use of the site by the bats. Bat friendly gates on mine openings is one such example.
The Idaho Geological Survey’s Mines and Prospects Database
The Idaho Geological Survey (IGS) has identified approximately 8,500 mines and prospects in Idaho. Some of these sites are active mines, and some sites are just prospects with little or no remaining traces of historic activity. Many sites are abandoned mines. The IGS has inspected over 1,600 properties, and their reports are used by IDL in our AML program. The IGS Mines and Prospects Database is also used to help locate and assess potential abandoned mines.
Department Contact – Boise Staff Office
Eric Wilson, Bureau Chief
Resource Protection and Assistance Bureau
Regulatory Minerals Program
For questions specific to a location, please contact the nearest Supervisory Area
Read more about the Abandoned Mine Lands Program