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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted an Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Initiative during the fiscal years 1997 through 2001 to provide technical assistance in support of Federal Land Management Agency (FLMA) actions to remediate contamination associated with abandoned hard rock mining activities. This initiative was part of a larger strategy by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to coordinate activities for the cleanup of federal lands affected by AML.
The USGS Abandoned Mine Lands Initiative (AMLI) strategy employed a watershed approach, in which contaminated sites were identified and remediated based on their effect on the water and ecosystem quality of a targeted watershed. The initiative was implemented on a pilot scale in two watersheds, the Boulder River basin in southwestern Montana and the Upper Animas River basin in southwestern Colorado.
While the AMLI project is completed, USGS scientists are still conducting research and monitoring activities. With the 2015 mine wastewater release into Cement Creek, USGS scientists have provided scientific input following the spill and are studying various environmental impacts of the spill.
Initiative Plan | Upper Animas River | Boulder River
The AMLI project website is broken into three sections: the initiative plan, studies and products in the Upper Animas River basin, Colorado, and the Boulder River Basin, Montana.
Church, S.E., 1996, A watershed-scale approach to tracing metal contamination in the environment: Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres (CNTC), Metals in the Environment Workshop Report, Far Hills Inn, Val Morin, Quebec, October 21-22, 1996.
Larison, J.R., Likens, G.E., Fitzpatrick, J.W., and Crock, J.G., 2000, Cadmium toxicity among wildlife in the Colorado Rocky Mountains: Nature, v. 406, p. 181-183, doi:10.1038/35018068.
Robbins, E.I., 1999, Microbial and Spectral Reflectance Techniques to Distinguish Neutral and Acidic Drainage: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 0118-99.
Other sections of the AMLI project website.
The overall project summaries are published in two USGS Professional Papers: Animas River in Professional Paper 1651 and Boulder River in Professional Paper 1652. In each volume, chapter A is an executive summary of the accomplishments for a general populace and chapter B is written for a more technical audience, providing a summary of the subsequent technical chapters.