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Abandoned Mineral Lands Program

Abandoned mine opening
Abandoned mine opening in Wrangell-St. Elias NP&Pres. Alaska. (NPS, Historic)

The reclamation of abandoned mineral lands is an expensive and important land management issue. Like other federal and state land-managing state agencies, the National Park Service is committing resources to a comprehensive nationwide inventory of abandoned mineral lands. Furthermore, the service supports the reform of mining laws, takes a leading role in drafting the general permit (under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) for storm water runoff in abandoned mineral sites, and works with the Department of the Interior to carry out AML initiatives.

View a photographic overview of AML in the National Park System

AML Inventory and Statistics in the National Park System

Abandoned mines are in 126 National Park System units. An ongoing inventory in the units so far revealed an estimated 3,100 sites with about 8,400 mine openings, piles of tailings, and hazardous structures and thousands of hectares of scarred lands.


Summary of Abandoned Mineral Lands by NPS Region and by Park Unit, 2011 [pdf - 64KB]

The National Park Service has an on-going Abandoned Mineral Land Program and is an active participant with the broader inter-agency and national AML program associations.

Abandoned Mineral Lands Management Issues

Management of AML sites involves the following issues:

  • Site Safety - Visitors can encounter a number of hazards at AML sites. The NPS has an active program to try to mitigate hazards and place warning signs at abandoned mine sites.
  • AML sites can be the source of several environmental contaminants. The NPS tries to insure that environmental problems at the site are addressed.
  • Preservation of historic features whether they are old buildings, old structures, prehistoric mining tools, or evidence of particularly remarkable engineering accomplishments. The NPS works closely with State Historic Preservation Officers to ensure that significant cutural values are preserved.
  • Protection of habitat for threatened and endangered species. In many parks, abandoned mines are habitat for wildlife including bats, woodrats, and crustaceans. The NPS tries to insure that species are not impacted by either curious visitors or restoration efforts.

Examples of Abandoned Mineral Lands Hazard Warning Signs

AML Technical Reports

AML Closure Drawings and Specifications

  • Bat-Compatible Closure Drawings (10 pdf files - 73 to 489K) 1a | 1b | 2 | 3a | 3b | 3c | 4a | 4b | 4c | 4d
  • NPS Mine Closures Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
    ARRA Drawings (pdf - 1.6 MB) | ARRA Specifications (pdf - 613 KB)


Last Updated: November 13, 2012