Christopher Ross, BLM Nevada State Office, Reno, Nevada
The State of Nevada has more abandoned mine land sites – an estimated 300,000 – than any other western state – a reflection of its complex geology and the fact that most land there is publicly owned. Recent incidents and government audits have increased pressure to close hazards permanently in the interest of public safety. Increased funding has created new opportunities for local employment. Complicating this work are the needs to preserve associated wildlife habitat and cultural resources. Mining claimants also prefer that sites be left open for mineral access. Because of the scope of the problem of physical safety and the various interests involved, it is necessary to address the issue on a landscape–level scale rather than site by site. This session discussed various methods of resolution of these conflicting interests and elaborated on the wide variety of partnerships that help the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reclaim sites. Projects and partnerships range from the very complex with attendant bureaucratic contracting and financing to the very informal, with only a shared goal to guide the agencies and participants and little to no paperwork. Thus local communities and business entities are heavily involved and invested in the task of improving the safety and environmental integrity of the public lands that surround them and upon which their business is conducted.
Chris has a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, with specialization in forensic plant ecology, from the University of Nevada. For his sins he has fallen among geologists and engineers, where he now leads the BLM’s Nevada Abandoned Mine Program. He also works with a variety of biological, chemical, and reclamation issues, including mine revegetation, riparian restoration, bats, and migratory birds. He is the author of several hundred magazine articles and technical presentations. He lives way up a dirt road in the eastern Sierra where he caretakes a large mountain ranch with assistance from about two tons of horses and several cords of small red dogs.