ELCO, Ill. — Owners of a one-time silica mine in southern Illinois are donating the property to a Michigan-based group that works to help the endangered Indiana bat.

A deal that was decades in the making came to a close last week as Unimin President and CEO Campbell Jones gave ownership of Magazine Mine to Organization for Bat Conservation Executive Director Rob Mies, the Southern Illinoisan reported . The mine will be the protected home of more than 45,000 endangered Indiana bats.

Jones said that although his company is responsible for industrial mineral mining, they also have another goal to “advance life.” He said the company is more a steward of the land than an owner of the land they mine.

“It is a privilege to be responsible for land,” Jones said. “We see it as just a short period of time.”

Mies said he is thrilled to take ownership of the site and that Magazine Mine has the potential to be a great place for scientific study on top of being home to such a large population of endangered bats.

“This is an amazing conservation effort that really happened because Unimin was thinking forward,” Mies said.

White Nose Syndrome — a white fungus that grows on the nose of bats, causing irritation that wakes them from hibernation and leads to starvation at times — has been plaguing the country for over 10 years. Mies said silica mines have been home to bat populations that have seen minimal effects from the fungus.

“We are excited because this is a potential safe haven for our bats in this area that we need,” he said.


Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com