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AML Program

Bat gate mine closure at Buffalo National River, Arkansas.

Bat gate mine closure at Buffalo National River, Arkansas.

Remediation of safety and environmental issues at abandoned mineral lands is an expensive and important land management issue. The National Park Service is committed to maintaining a comprehensive, nationwide inventory of abandoned mineral lands, and works with other agencies to address the multitude of safety, environmental, and cultural issues raised by AML sites. The Service supports legislative efforts to create a hardrock mine reclamation fund similar to that created under the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, which provides money for reclamation of coal mines.

Program Highlights


fenced mine opening

The NPS has an active and ongoing AML inventory program. A comprehensive inventory and assessment project conducted from 2010 through 2013 identified 37,050 AML features in 133 of the 405 units that make up the National Park System.
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gate closure on mine adit

Parks use a variety of methods to close hazardous mine openings, including fencing, signs, backfilling, blasting, expandable foam, rock and mortar walls, and bat gates.
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report cover

The NPS AML Program produces a variety of technical and nontechnical publications to share current status and best practices with parks and the public.
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Warning Signs

hazard sign

View a gallery of signs used on state and federal lands
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Volunteer and Cooperative Projects

Each year, national parks benefit from the hard work of thousands of volunteers. Volunteers assist with the inventory of abandoned mines and wells, construction of mine closures, and revegetation of mine sites. Without volunteers, the National Park Service could not afford the labor-intensive projects. Often, the National Park Service uses outside specialists to conduct scientific research for restoration projects. The service established cooperative agreements with several other federal agencies, state agencies, and universities for the study environmental impairments in abandoned mineral land sites in park units.

Cultural Preservation

Many parks boast rich mining histories and are active in preserving and even reconstructing mining-related historic structures and landscapes. Three park units were established with the specific purpose of preserving the American mining heritage: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park , Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, and Keewanaw National Historical Park. The first two of these parks commemorate the Alaskan gold rush of 1898, and the latter, established in 1992, celebrates the internationally significant copper mines in the upper Michigan peninsula. Evidence of earlier mining can also be viewed in the National Park System. Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument in Texas and Wupatki National Monument in Arizona preserve the remains of prehistoric extraction sites, and Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota protects the pipestone (red mudstone) quarries of the Yankton Sioux.

Interpretation and Education

The National Park Service wants people to know that mining and abandoned mineral lands are often part of the park scene. Mining interpretive displays and presentations are part of the program at several parks. In other parks, special regional events such as discoveries and local gold rushes are commemorated. Visitor centers often have books on mining history and folklore. Educators have recognized that parks make excellent classrooms. Mining-related topics are used to enhance school curricula in history, geography, science, and even art. Some national parks and state agencies offer school outreach programs, including abandoned mineral lands safety information for children.


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Last Updated: February 17, 2015