MINTURN, Colo. (CBS4) – Authorities are stepping up enforcement at two abandoned mine sites after trespassers stepped out their activity recently.
Deputies from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office will write citations to anyone seen or caught on the properties of the Belden and Gilman mines.
This at the request of the mine owners who reported an increase in the severity of trespasser’s intrusions and damage.
“We’ve been giving out warnings for years,” said Amber Barrett, Community Affairs specialist with ECSO.
The office has previously received numerous reports of trespassing, grafitti, and damage to property at the sites, but the owners have raised safety concerns this summer.
“This time, someone’s actually pulling the doors off the mine entrances,” she said. “(The owners) are just worried that someone there is going to be trapped or hurt. Luckily, we haven’t had any accidents or tragedies there yet.”
The adjacent mine sites have been abandoned since the early 1980’s. They were collectively designated the 235-acre “Eagle Mine Superfund Site” by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1993. According to the EPA, the site includes an estimated 70 miles of underground mine tunnels underneath the abandoned company town of Gilman. Much of the mine is now flooded.
Mining activity began in the area in the 1880’s. Individual mining claims were first consolidated into a single entity, the Empire Zinc Company, in 1912.
Clean-up work at the mines has been “on and off” for years, according to Barrett. There remains hope the mines will be privately purchased and re-activated.