Unimin Corp. announced that it will transfer the rights to its Magazine Mine, located in Alexander County, Ill., to the Organization for Bat Conservation.
In October 1995, a visit to the mine site, which was originally used to extract microcrystalline silica used in the paint and coatings industries, identified several thousand bats including the endangered Indiana bat, Little Brown Bat, and the Long-Eared Myotis Bat.
“We reached out to bat conservation experts to discuss preservation and enhancement of the naturally formed habitat and engaged volunteers who helped us stabilize the main entrance and install a bat-friendly gate,” said Seibert Cowley, regional general manager, Unimin. “Little did we know then, that the Indiana bat population in the mine would grow from 100 to more than 40,000 in just a few years.”
Historically, Unimin has hosted speakers who lead interpretive talks about the bats, and provided guided educational tours for zoology students. Today, the rights to this bat sanctuary will be transferred in order to contribute to the continuing education and environmental study of bat populations in their natural habitats.
“The transfer of the Magazine Mine is a huge step in protecting the rare and endangered Indiana Bat,” said Rob Mies, executive director for the Organization for Bat Conservation. “We are proud to partner with Unimin in this endeavor, and excited to see what secrets the mine may hold for the future of bat research.”
The Indiana bat is endangered partially due to the loss of their habitat. The bat is a social species gathering in large numbers when they hibernate. Any impact to their hibernation site can cause the death of thousands of bats. The U.S. Wildlife and Fish Service lists threats as “modifications to caves, mines and surrounding areas that change airflow and alter microclimate in hibernacula [winter hibernation site].
“While the species is still declining in North America overall, the Magazine Mine is swarming with nocturnal life,” said Campbell Jones, president and CEO, Unimin. “We are pleased that Rob Mies and the Organization for Bat Conservation will continue to educate and inspire people about the importance of conservation and respect for the environment.”