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Reclamation construction is scheduled this spring on six abandoned coal mines in the Escalante area. The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining is also seeking information about additional abandoned mines.

This will be the first such project in Garfield County, except for a small one in Capitol Reef National Park that was funded by the National Park Service. Funding for the new projects comes from a tax on coal production.The program is aimed at solving environmental, public health and safety problems caused by past mining practices, according to a letter received by Garfield County Commission Chairman Tom Hatch.

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which authorizes the program, was passed by the Utah Legislature more than 10 years ago. Projects have been completed since that time in other areas.

While the division is focusing on abandoned coal mines, officials hope to have sufficient funding soon to address non-coal mines as well. Plans are to close hazardous mine openings and to clean up minor coal waste and debris. Areas disturbed by construction will be revegetated.

The mines in Garfield County that will be reclaimed are south and northwest of Escalante. They include three Richards, Shurtz and Schow mines, the Dry Fork Mine, Corn Creek Mine and Cherry Creek Mine.

The sites are on state lands or federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service. Landowners are being contacted for right-of-entry permission to perform the work.