Consider Using Grates to Close Mines
by Kevin J. Chismire, President, Ouray County Historical Society
Feb 18, 2010 | 677 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The following letter was addressed to Liz Mauch of the USFS and submitted to The Watch for publication.

Dear Ms. Mauch:

The Ouray County Historical Society is committed to protecting historic mining sites in Ouray County. We are concerned about the upcoming mine closures in the Colorado Boy Abandoned Mine Closure Project. From your Scoping Document it appears that the only consideration for using grates vs. physical sealing the entrance with backfill, etc. is whether or not bats inhabit the mine. Another important consideration should be the historical nature of the mines.

We have no objection to backfilling a partially collapsed mine opening. That is the only reasonable way to secure the opening. However, when the mine adit is a solid rock opening we would much prefer a grate. In this manner the adit is still intact and the historical nature of the mine is not lost forever. Once you have sealed those mines with perfectly intact rock openings you have destroyed the historical site. History comes alive in front of those mine adits and we think that the Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management should consider the need to use grates on stable rock-faced adits. In addition you may inadvertently destroy other features of the site while sealing the entrance.

The Red Mountain Project worked hard to save mining claims in Ouray and San Juan Counties and they should not be destroyed in the name of protecting the public. We are most concerned about sites 20 and 22. These are completely stable hard rock adits and they should be sealed with a grate. Some of the other sites of concern are 1, 5, 13, and 21. It may not be possible to grate these sites but we hope that you will also consider grating them.

We would also like to request that in any future proposed mine closures in Ouray County you will seek out input from the Ouray County Historical Society before a scoping document is produced. You could perhaps invite representatives from the Ouray County Historical Society to accompany you on field trips designed to determine the fate of historic adits and shafts.

Our twelve-member Board of Directors unanimously supports the sentiments in this letter.


Kevin J. Chismire, President, Ouray County Historical Society
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