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Forest district plans gating to protect bat habitat, people

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This is an example of bat gating a mine opening to protect bat habitat and maintain safety for the public. (Source: New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division)

The Lincoln National Forest Smokey Bear Ranger District, working with the state Mining and Minerals division, plans to reopen and maintain an opening to a mine – called an adit – with bat-friendly gating to protect bat habitat and to keep humans safe.

The entrance to the Tanbark mine was closed in the 1990s, but officials said that trespassers had since reopened it, creating a safety hazard. Mine shafts can extend hundreds of feet below ground.

The ranger district expects to begin the bat gate project in September or October.

Surveys indicate bats live in the mine, and the abandoned mine provides a potential roosting or hibernacula habitat.

bright spot“The purpose of the bat gate is to maintain a healthy habitat for the bats, and public safety. Abandoned mines are very dangerous. We do not want anyone getting injured,” said Andrew Ellis, environmental planner for the Smokey Bear Ranger District.

The Tanbark mine would be closed with a reinforced gate that would allow authorized personnel to get in and keep everybody else out.

The project area is near Forest Road 108.

Public comment on the project will be taken for about 30 days.

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