In the past two years, two Arizonans have died from falls into unmarked abandoned mines. But if the detailed locations of the known abandoned mines are posted online will that protect people or will it serve as a guide for thrill seekers and result in more injuries and deaths?
This is Mine Safety Awareness Week in Arizona, and State Mine Inspector Joe Hart made the case to the state legislature about the need for more funding to identify and close abandoned mines.
Legislators gave little likelihood of that, given the state's financial situation.
Joe cautioned that while his office has an internal list of 10,000 abandoned mines, there are no resources to create a digital online listing or detailed map. The current map is too small to be useful.
For a list of abandoned mines to be useful to the public, the locations have to be detailed enough that anyone heading out to hike or offroad, could examine their planned routes to spot potential problems. But does that then create attractions for those who deliberately want to explore these old mines and end up trapped or hurt? My experience is that there are more problems from people who seek to go into mines than those who do so accidentally.
In general, I'm an advocate of providing the information and letting people make their own decisions. Give responsible recreationists information that can save their lives. The ones who misuse it may be our entries for the Darwin Awards.