Agency seeks comment on mine plan

If you have thoughts on the challenging task of cleaning up the Blue Ledge Mine high in the Applegate River drainage, the U.S. Forest Service wants to hear from you.

A 30-day public comment period to gather input on a proposed clean up of the toxic wastes left by the copper mine operation was announced today by Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest officials. The $8.5 million project is being funded by federal stimulus money.

The agency's recently completed engineering evaluation/cost analysis for the mine recommends constructing less than one mile of roads on private land to access the waste rock piles releasing toxic materials. The material would be removed and placed on private land at a stable repository and covered with impermeable materials, according to the recommendation.

The work would be completed by the end of the 2011 field season.

The mine, at about 4,000 feet above sea level, is in the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District in the Joe Creek drainage about three miles south of the California state line in the upper Applegate River watershed upstream from the Applegate Dam. The mine is roughly 33 miles south of Jacksonville.

Waste rock from the old copper mine, which operated early in the last century, is leaching sulfuric acid, arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper and zinc into the watershed, the document reports.

The Forest Service is working with the Environmental Protection Agency on the project. Although the EPA has jurisdiction over private land and the mine is located on patented land, the Forest Service is the lead agency for clean-up operations because of natural resources impact is on the national forest.

The engineering evaluation and cost analysis and other administrative documents for the Blue Ledge Copper Mine are available

Comments can be sent via regular mail to USDA Forest Service, Blue Ledge Mine, 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, Or. 97540. E-mail comments can be sent to

— Paul Fattig

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