20-foot mine vent repaired in canyon

Brush, chicken wire put in place after dog fell into the hole in January
By: Penne Usher, Journal Staff Writer
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A mine vent near Auburn on state land that swallowed a dog last month has been repaired, but some don't think enough has been done to render it safe. Dewie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, took a 20-foot fall into a 3 ½-foot diameter mine vent near Maidu canal along the American River Canyon Jan. 21. Dewie wandered off the trail and fell through chicken wire that had covered the mine vent opening. The chicken wire wasn't strong enough to hold the dog, said Tim Twietmeyer, who offered assistance to Dewie's owners Marc and Erica Roper. Dewie, who was not injured, was pulled to safety by Auburn firefighters. The hole has since been somewhat repaired. For now, they've covered the hole with brush and a makeshift fence, Twietmeyer said Tuesday. Erica Roper said she would prefer to have the hole filled in with foam, but is pleased that officials took quick action. I think it would be hard for anyone to fall into the hole Dewie fell in with what they've done, she said. I'm very happy that the parks service did something. They did a good job. There's no way you could slide off the trail now. There are an estimated 47,000 abandoned mines in California, more than 740 in Placer County and several in the immediate Auburn area that may pose a risk to residents and animals. The Auburn State Recreation Area is responsible for mines and mine vents within its park boundaries. State parks personnel placed wire fencing around the opening of the mine vent and placed downed brush and trees to impede a person or dog's progress into what has come to be known as Dewie hole. The fencing is just the first step we are going to do, said Jason Archuleta with the Auburn State Recreation Area. We had an archeologist come out and review the area and the other mining holes we could find. She's compiling information to determine what the next step should be. If feasible, the 20-plus-foot-deep shaft could be filled with expanding foam, officials said. The foothills are scattered with these old abandoned mine shafts. Most of the shafts are sealed as they are discovered. Roper said she's just glad it was her dog that fell down the opening, rather than a child. There are people all over the canyon, she said. A child wouldn't have survived. I still don't know how Dewie wasn't injured. The Journal's Penne Usher can be reached at or post a comment on