BOZEMAN - A U.S. Forest Service official says the agency expects to wrap up its decade-long restoration of more than a dozen former gold, lead and silver mines next to Yellowstone National Park by the end of 2010.

Forest Service geologist Mary Beth Marks said at least $23 million has been spent shuttering mines and restoring vegetation to the New World Mining District near Cooke City, which is scarred by decades of open pit and underground mining.

Following a proposal to reopen gold mining in the 1990s, the federal government signed a settlement agreement with Crown Butte Mining, Inc. to purchase the company's interest in the area. The transfer of property led to a $22.5 million fund to clean up damage from mining.

A daylong meeting on the status of the project is scheduled today at the Comfort Inn in Bozeman. Marks said monitoring would continue for several years after the cleanup is complete.

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