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Park City Council to property owners: cap your mine shafts and tunnels or we'll cap them for you.
It's long been more than 100 years since Park City's mining heyday. But it wasn't until last month that the City Council put its foot down on old mine hazards, fearing more skiers and dogs could take a surprise plunge down an abandoned shaft.
In separate incidents in 2009, a skier and a dog fell into mine shafts, according to a report to the Park City Council. Both survived.
Park City is almost entirely private land rather than national forest, like many Utah ski areas and was pock-marked with tunnels and shafts during boom years in the late 1800s and early 1900s , said City Councilwoman Liza Simpson.
"The mining claims map of Park City looks like a dozen drunk monkeys trying to put together a puzzle," she said. "Shafts and tunnels are all over the place."
According to the new ordinance, large property owners must "abate or close" mine hazards. If the owner fails to take action, the city can cap the tunnel or shaft and recover costs from the property owner.
The move comes as Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort have expanded skiing terrain. In addition, Park City has become a summer destination with hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails.
"The likelihood that someone would fall into a shaft isn't that great," said Mayor Dana Williams. "But we do have hundreds of miles of tunnels under the city."
The ordinance is aimed at property owners with 10 or more acres.
The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining has closed some mine sites in Park City with consent of property owners, according to the report by Joan Card, the city's manager of environmental regulatory affairs. But other property owners have not consented to the state's efforts.
The ordinance requires land owners to conduct a search for mine hazards by Nov. 1, 2012, and submit an inventory and mitigation plan to Park City by Dec. 1, 2012. Closure of mine hazards must be completed by Dec. 1, 2015.
"We're not dictating the way they get mitigated," Simpson said. "They just need to be sealed so the random person can't wander in or fall in."
United Park City Mines and Deer Valley resort are among the large property owners in Park City. Officials of those resorts could not be reached for comment Wednesday.