Ranger District Targets Mines For Closure

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The Payson Ranger District wants public input regarding its proposal to close and rehabilitate 11 mines in the Rim Country.

Three of the 11 -- the Thompson, Rocky Ford and Single Standard mines -- were dug before 1936, and most of the others predate the 1950s. All are considered hazardous.

"Essentially what we're doing is slowly identifying and plugging up the shafts that are around town that kids are playing in," Rod Byers, lands and minerals staff officer for the Payson Ranger District, said. "They're old mine shafts that are dangerous."

A total of 80 abandoned mines are located in the Rim country, some more dangerous and accessible than others. State law requires that inactive mines be secured.

The mines currently under consideration are:

  • The American Gulch Mine, which has one open adit (an almost horizontal entrance) that is typically full of water.
  • The Head Frame Mine, which has a collapsed shaft.
  • The Little Green Mine, also with one open adit that is usually full of water.
  • The Little Maud Mine, with two partially open adits.
  • The Lousy Gulch Mine, which has two collapsed and closed adits.
  • The Midget Mine, with two open shafts.
  • The Rocky Ford Mine. No information available at deadline.
  • The Single Standard Mine, with one adit and one shaft that are both collapsed and closed.
  • The Thompson Mine, with two partially open adits and one collapsed and closed shaft.
  • The Waif Mine, with one collapsed and closed adit.
  • The White Mountain Mine, which has one partially closed adit with severe portal collapse.

The U.S. Forest Service is conducting an environmental analysis on each of these mines prior to their closure to identify any issues or concerns. It is anticipated that most of the adits and shafts will be back-filled due to instability and lack of apparent use by wildlife.

Sites determined to have bat or wildlife use will be evaluated for possible installation of bat gates. The mines can be reopened, according to Ed Armenta, head ranger for the Payson Ranger District.

"If, in the unlikely event a future claimant would want to reopen one of these mines and further explore the potential for mineral development, they can do so by following standard filing procedures," he said.

Written comments to identify issues or other alternatives must be received by Friday, Sept. 2. Comments should be addressed to Ruth Velasco, Assistant Lands and Minerals Staff, Payson Ranger District, 1009 E. Highway 260, Payson, AZ 85541, or (928) 474-7936.

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