Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA)


Inyo County is the Lead Agency for the processing of surfacing mining reclamation plan applications. Reclamation plans are required by the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 (SMARA). Reclamation plans assure that:

  • Adverse environmental effects are prevented or minimized and mined lands are reclaimed to a useable condition readily adaptable for alternate land uses.
  • Production and conservation of minerals are encouraged, while considering recreation, watershed, wildlife, aesthetic, range and forage values.
  • Residual hazards to public health and safety are eliminated.

Reclamation may extend to affected lands surrounding the mined lands, and may require backfilling, grading, resoiling, revegetation, soil stabilization or other measures.

All surface mining operations that disturb greater than one acre or move more than 1,000 cubic yards or more are required to have an approved reclamation plan before the start of mining activity.

SMARA also requires that financial assurances must be posted to cover the cost of final reclamation.

The Planning Department takes the lead in the processing of reclamation plan applications and financial assurances. The Department is responsible for reclamation on private lands, Inyo County’s Road Department, City of Los Angeles, and California Department of Transportation borrow pits, and surface mining on federally administered lands.

The Inyo County Planning Commission conducts a public hearing and considers all comments in making their decision on each reclamation plan application as provided by the Inyo County SMARA Ordinance.