The BLM is planning to close 172 abandoned mines in the San Rafael Swell. The explanation is that they are trying to "protect you from yourself by this action because you are unable to do so". Their words...to improve public safety, reduce the risk of accidental death or injury, and reduce BLM's liability by closing the mine openings.
Of these abandoned mines, 155 will be closed up so they can no longer be viewed at all. Sixteen will be steel bar gated to prevent entrance but can still be viewed through the bars. One vertical mine will be steel grated so that it can be viewed from above. This includes mines at Copper Globe, ZCMI Mine, Tomsich Butte and east San Rafael Reef area.
If you have recently viewed the MK Tunnel location you have seen the destruction caused by this closure in 2009. One tunnel has iron bar gates to allow you to view inside the dark hole but the rest is gone; a catastrophe to our cold war military history. Tears fell as I looked at the sight of the mess and the iron bars. The awe-inspiring history for our children and grandchildren died with the actions of Federal Government. The "big-hearted BLM" were "kind" enough to let the Emery County Historical Society place two information boards at the sites of this disaster.
The BLM spends more time and money protecting paleontology and archeological sites than our cultural sites of recent generations. These historical sites are plundered by the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Plan.
I believe the BLM should have done what the National Park Service did in Death Valley National Park with the Eureka Mine. I quote from National Park website www.nps.gov/deva/historyculture/pete-aguereberry.htm "Around the corner is the site of the Eureka gold mine. The tunnels have all been stabilized with netting and are safe to enter but you will need a flashlight."
Many mines in our area could be done this way. A good example would be one mine at Tomsich Butte in the Hondu Arch area. Also, Copper Globe and ZCMI are two more candidates. Go in and block off some drifts with concrete stoppings so people could walk from the mine entrance to the load-out shaft. Ventilation and radon gas should not be a problem with a short walk. Install kiosks with the history and safety information about each site. Without this information our kids and grandkids will not know what the uranium mining era was all about. Some of the money spent on closing mines could be used in preservation and stabilization of sites (restore some of the structures).
We have until March 7, 2011 to comment about this atrocity. Please refer to San Rafael Swell Abandoned Mine Closure Project on all correspondence: Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Chris Conrad, Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, Utah 84501.
Save our history.