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State and Bureau of Land Management partner to reclaim unsafe mine just north of Cody

View of a hill with a hole in the middle. Wooden poles are holding the poles together
As mining advanced in the Cottonwood Creek Bentonite Mine, timbers were inserted to support the roof, composed of unstable sedimentary rock.

An old bentonite mine just three miles north of Cody has been reclaimed by the Bureau of Land Management and the state.

Known as the Cottonwood Creek Bentonite Mine, it is located on Bureau of Reclamation administered land. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) geologist Gretchen Hurley said it is believed that the mine was started in the 60s and abandoned not long after.

"They reached the point where it was too dangerous, apparently, and they just abandoned the working…leaving behind a really hazardous long trench that was very unsafe," said Hurley.

The area had become popular for accessing BLM lands nearby with off-road vehicles, which was why it was important to reclaim it.

Hurley said multiple agencies worked together to backfill the trenches and then recontoured the land. She said there are over 52,000 abandoned mines in the West.

"Of those, about 7,000 have been mitigated or addressed. There's literally tens of thousands of abandoned mines and features out there that continue to create really scary hazards for the public," she said.

Only one to three mines are reclaimed in Wyoming annually. Hurley asks the public to be careful whenever recreating and to report to the state or the BLM if they find an old mine.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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