Federal Land Management:

Financial Guarantees Encourage Reclamation of National Forest System Lands

RCED-87-157: Published: Aug 24, 1987. Publicly Released: Aug 24, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the success of the Forest Service's policy of requiring financial guarantees for hardrock mining operations that could significantly disturb National Forest System lands.

GAO found that: (1) requiring mine operators to post financial guarantees ensures that the operators will reclaim sites on national forest lands; (2) the Forest Service required financial guarantees for 214 of the 336 sites reviewed; (3) 157 of the sites with financial guarantees were operating and thus did not require reclamation; (4) 56 of the remaining sites had either been reclaimed, were in some stage of reclamation, or had mining operations suspended and did not require reclamation; and (5) most of the 122 mining operations without financial guarantees had caused minimal surface disturbance. GAO also found that: (1) mining associations generally support reclamation and financial guarantee requirements; (2) the Forest Service worked with mine operators to develop plans that minimized reclamation costs; and (3) the Forest Service recently completed a nationwide review of its reclamation activities and has proposed actions to improve the administration of its reclamation and financial guarantee program.

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