The Idaho Geological Survey estimates there are approximately 8,500 abandoned mines in Idaho. The Idaho Legislature created the Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Act in order to reclaim lands affected by mining in Idaho. The IDL Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program promotes public safety by identifying and ranking dangerous conditions at mines that are no longer operating and by securing dangerous orphaned mine openings. One-third of the Idaho Mine License Tax is diverted into a fund for reclaiming abandoned mines.
The Land Board has responsibility to administer the Idaho Abandoned Mine Reclamation Act. The IDL carries out the decisions of the Land Board.
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 Land Board has granted, designation as an eligible mine.
The Land Board also tries to address historic preservation concerns. If a site is older than 50 years, the Land Board will try to avoid impacts to the historical integrity of the site. If avoidance is not possible, then mitigation may be needed.
The Land Board also tries to address endangered species concerns. 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.
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