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47,000 Abandoned Mines Still Open in California

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, October 10, 2011

Steve Jenkins is with the California Department of Conservation.  He says the majority of the mines are where you would expect them…Placer County, Eldorado County and foothill communities that boomed with the gold rush. But he says there are also a lot of mines that aren't where you would expect.

JENKINS: "Down in the desert where you have large open areas, people riding motorcycles, four-wheel drive vehicles, they'll go racing across the desert not knowing there's a vertical shaft.  They'll hit that and their vehicle or them will go down in the hole."

This week in Truckee, the California and Nevada abandoned mine programs are hosting three dozen similar federal, state and Indian programs to see how they can work together better.    Jenkins says they currently use polyurethane foam or dirt to seal off a mine shaft .  But at a closure rate of 150 a year, there are going to be thousands of open mines waiting for unsuspecting visitors for decades to come. 

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