Surface Mining and Reclamation Act
SMARA is an Acronym for the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975. SMARA was enacted by the California Legislature to address the need for a continuing supply of mineral resources, and to prevent or minimize the negative impacts of surface mining to public health, property and the environment.
The Department of Conservation’s Office of Mine Reclamation (OMR) and the State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) are jointly charged with ensuring proper administration of the Act’s requirements. The SMGB promulgates regulations to clarify and interpret the Act’s provisions, and also serves as a policy and appeals board. The OMR provides an ongoing technical assistance program for lead agencies and operators, maintains a database of mine locations and operational information statewide, and is responsible for compliance related matters.
The process of reclamation includes maintaining water and air quality, minimizing flooding, erosion and damage to wildlife and aquatic habitats caused by surface mining. The final step in this process is often topsoil replacement and re-vegetation with suitable plant species.
The Act’s requirements apply to anyone, including government agencies, engaged in surface mining operations in California (including those on federally managed lands) which disturb more than one acre or remove more than 1,000 cubic yards of materials. This includes, but is not limited to: prospecting and exploratory activities, dredging and quarrying, streambed skimming, borrow pitting, and the stockpiling of mined materials.