DOINews: BLM's Abandoned Mine Lands Program and Bat Conservation International Celebrate Five Years of Partnership

Last edited 09/05/2019

The Bureau of Land Management's Abandoned Mine Lands program is responsible for closure of physical safety hazards at abandoned mines on BLM-administered lands. While these hazards are controlled to ensure public safety, abandoned mines also provide critically important habitat for a large percentage of cave-dwelling bat species in the United States. Conservation of bats is extremely important due to their significant role as pollinators and as primary predators of night-flying insects, including many harmful crop pests.

To help simultaneously manage public safety and protect bat populations, for the last five years BLM's AML program has partnered with Bat Conservation International, an organization “dedicated to the enduring protection of the world's 1300+ species of bats and their habitats and creating a world in which bats and humans successfully coexist." Through an assistance agreement, BCI supports the AML program by completing biological surveys of abandoned mine shafts and adits prior to closure and by helping to manage AML's bat-centered research efforts.

closeup of a bat

The BLM's Abandoned Mine Lands program is partnering with Bat Conservation International to simultaneously protect public safety and conserve bat populations.

The AML/BCI agreement is led on the BCI side by Jason Corbett and Shawn Thomas, the organization's director and assistant director of Subterranean Programs, respectively. BLM staff – working through their AML coordinators and the Washington Office project manager – can request BCI's help with biological surveys and other AML/bat issues. As of Sept. 15, 2014, BCI had completed 1,693 bat surveys, within which 170 bat-compatible closures were recommended. BCI also provides guidance and installation services for bat-compatible gates and cupolas – devices which allow bats to enter and exit abandoned mines while keeping humans out.

A person wearing protective gear measuring radon in a bat cave

Radon is measured in an abandoned uranium mine in Colorado.

The AML/BCI research component is designed to help provide a scientific basis for AML program-management decisions and science initiatives. In May 2014, the first research project, “Bat Habitat and Radon Concentrations at Roosts in Abandoned Uranium Mines,” was completed by Cecelia Schmidt of Northern Arizona University. The study examined questions around the importance of managing for bats at abandoned uranium mines and found that by accommodating for them on these radon-influenced landscapes, the BLM is not negatively impacting individual bats. A second research project started in the summer to better identify characteristics of bat-compatible gates and cupolas that help or hinder bat activity.

The AML program looks forward to many more years of successful partnership with BCI to simultaneously enhance public safety and support bat conservation.

By: BLM National

Oct. 29, 2014

Related Link:

BLM-Bats and AML

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