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The Lincoln National Forest Smokey Bear Ranger District, in conjunction with the state of New Mexico Mining and Minerals division, proposed to maintain a previously installed closure of a mine adit (opening to a mine) with bat-friendly gating to protect bat habitat and to provide for human safety, per a release on June 26. 

The Tanbark mine's entrance was closed in the 1990s but officials said that trespassers had since reopened it creating a concern for safety. Open mine shafts can extend hundreds of feet below ground.

The Ranger District is expected to begin the bat gate project in September or October.

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

"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 environmental planner for the Smokey Bear Ranger District Andrew Ellis.

The Tanbark mine would be closed with a reinforced bat-friendly gate that would allow access by authorized personnel, but otherwise prevent human entry.

The project area is in the vicinity of Forest Road 108.

"This is in our normal scope of business. We will not have any added expenditures and we ask that when the public does come across an abandoned shaft to report them to their local forest department," he said.

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How to submit comments

Anyone submitting a comment is asked to provide their name and postal mailing address so that they can be added to the project mailing list.

Anonymous comments submitted will be considered. However, these comments may not be used in the environmental documents for planning.

Public comment will be taken for will be taken for about 30-days.

"Bat gates are a gated entrance to a mine shaft or cave that contains suitable habitat for bats to fly in at will and keeps humans out protecting the environment. We are having to service the closure was vandalized by humans to gain entry," he said. 

Email: Email comments and attachments to comments-southwestern-lincoln-smokey-bear@usda.gov. Please include the project title, Tanbark Adit Bat Gate, in the subject line.

Mail: Jodie Canfield, District Ranger, c/o Andrew Ellis, 901 Mechem Drive, or faxed to 575- 257-6174.

Oral Comment: must be received within our normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Smokey Bear Ranger District. 

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For more information regarding these actions contact Andrew Ellis, NEPA Planner, 901 Mechem Drive, at 575-257-4095, Andrew.Ellis@usda.gov, or at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58332.

Pamela L. Bonner may be reached at Pbonner@RuidosoNews.com, @Pamelalbonner1 on Twitter, or by phone at 575-202-5555.

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