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Archive for February 1st, 2019

Originally published in the King County Journal Reporter, February 1, 2006

Official says toxic gases and high temperatures are dangerous to recreationists

By Morris Malakoff
Journal Reporter

The main opening of one of the coal mines on Cougar Mountain is fenced off. Some of the abandoned mines are burning and collapsing, creating potential dangers for park visitors who hike off of the main trails.

The main opening of one of the coal mines on Cougar Mountain is fenced off. Some of the abandoned mines are burning and collapsing, creating potential dangers for park visitors who hike off of the main trails.

The Industrial Revolution is colliding with the Information Age in the forests south of Bellevue.

Underground coal mines that operated for a century, from the 1860s through the 1950s, are now abandoned—burning and collapsing—and creating potential hazards for park patrons who venture off the established trails in the four-square-mile Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

“It’s more than just taking a bad fall,” said Ginger Kaldenbach, senior project manager for U.S. Office of Surface Mining, the agency is responsible for monitoring and sealing abandoned mines. “Many of these mines emit toxic gases and if someone fell into one that is burning, the temperatures are hot and they would be severely burned.”

Of particular concern to Kaldenbach are outdoor recreationists engaged in geocaching—a high-tech treasure hunt using a handheld GPS monitor that tracks a location using a satellite network.

“They are looking at their GPS devices and may not see a collapsed mine and fall into it,” Kaldenbach said. (more…)

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