At CSU Fresno, students in a mine reclamation course taught by Dr. Chris Pluhar and Jerry DeGraff learned how to design and manage projects that address the variety of hazards posed by the more than 200,000 abandoned mines in the United States: environmental degradation from acid mine drainage to watersheds, sediment mobilization during storms, hazardous exposures to fish and wildlife, and disturbed lands for invasive species propagation.
First, students learned about erosion control methods by installing erosion control matting, wattles and silt fencing in a campus storm water retention basin in Fresno. Students then studied abandoned Tip Top Mine in San Luis Obispo County and collaboratively produced a professional-quality mine reclamation plan for the U.S. Forest Service. When the plan is implemented, it will substantially improve wildlife habitat, reduce environmental and safety hazards, and improve water quality in the Morro Creek, California watershed.
As one student shared, "I never thought about all the problems caused by abandoned mines before. I can actually see myself doing this for a living."