A U.S. Geological Survey Abandoned Mine Lands Initiative will develop a strategy for gathering and communicating the scientific information needed to formulate effective and cost-efficient remediation of abandoned mine lands. A watershed approach will identify, characterize, and remediate contaminated sites that have the most profound effect on water and ecosystem quality within a watershed. The Initiative will be conducted during 1997 through 2001 in two pilot watersheds, the Upper Animas River watershed in Colorado and the Boulder River watershed in Montana. Initiative efforts are being coordinated with the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and other stakeholders which are using the resulting scientific information to design and implement remediation activities.
The Initiative has the following eight objective-oriented components: estimate background (pre-mining) conditions; define baseline (current) conditions; identify target sites (major contaminant sources); characterize target sites and processes affecting contaminant dispersal; characterize ecosystem health and controlling processes at target sites; develop remediation goals and monitoring network; provide an integrated, quality-assured and accessible data network; and document lessons learned for future applications of the watershed approach.