Project would strive to preserve cultural integrity of Blue Ledge site

Protecting the cultural history of the Blue Ledge Mine will be a major factor guiding any environmental restoration work, forest officials said.

Stressing no plans have been made yet for the project, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest spokeswoman Patty Burel said any work would follow the guidelines in the National Preservation Act, passed by Congress in 1966 to preserve the nation's heritage.

"The agency will need to conduct a cultural resource survey," said Burel, who has been to the remote site. "There are obvious things that could be seen that are historical. We would look to see if the adits or other places like the area where Eileen was are eligible for the historical register.

"Basically, there would be an evaluation to determine what could be done to mitigate any impact the cleanup would have," she added.

Officials also indicated the proposed project is still preliminary, including the funding.

The agency's regional office announced April 10 that $8.5 million in federal stimulus money had been earmarked for cleaning up the Blue Ledge Mine. The work is expected to create 85 jobs, they estimated.

The funds are part of $157 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects planned for national forests in Oregon and Washington.

The mine itself is a patented claim, making it private property. The agency is working with the Environmental Protection Agency, which has jurisdiction on private land when it comes to environmental pollution.

— Paul Fattig

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