What is Reclamation?

Reclamation is the combined process by which adverse environmental effects of surface mining are minimized and mined lands are returned to a beneficial end use.  End uses may be open space, wildlife habitat, agriculture, or residential and commercial development.  Some components of reclamation include practices that control erosion and sedimentation, stablize slopes, and avoid and repair impacts to wildlife habitat.  The final step is usually topsoil replacement and revegetation with suitable plant species.  Reclamation is often phased to e concurrent throughout the life of the mining project. 

Examples of successful reclamation projects include:

  • A company reclaimed its mining pit to a strawberry field.

  • A gravel extraction area at Mississippi Bar was returned to a riparian wildlife habitat.

  • An aggregate mine on agricultural land operates in four phases. The intent is that not more than 95 acres is out of agricultural production at any time during the project's life.

  • Other mined lands have been reclaimed to grazing and production of crops such as alfalfa, corn, grapes and tomatoes.


DMR is sponsoring an award program to recognize excellence in the implementation of mine reclamation in California.  An annual award will be given for Excellence in Reclamation.  The winner will be featured in our SMARA Update newsletter, on our website, and will receive the award from the Department of Conservation Director David Bunn.  Announcements of the award winner will also be forwarded to local newspapers and industry organizations.  Mining companies and their employees, regulatory authorities, and members of the general public may nominate a reclamation project for an award.  Nominations must be received by July 31, 2013.  For more information, click here.