Mined Land Public Wildlife & Fishing Areas (MLWA)

507 E 560th Ave
Pittsburg, KS 66762
(620) 231-3173

Various locations throughout Cherokee & Crawford counties, including:
Fishing Lake (MLWA Unit #1)
“Quail Farm” (MLWA Unit #’s 5 & 6)
“Whitmore Pits” (MLWA Unit #’s 7 & 8)
Trout Lake (MLWA Unit #30)
KSOutdoors.com (includes brochure with maps)
ReserveAmerica.com (reserve cabins)

A habitat unlike anywhere else in the state of Kansas is spread more than 14,500 acres of Public Wildlife & Fishing Areas, throughout what used to be known as the Pittsburg-Weir Coalfield, across Cherokee & Crawford counties.

The property is rugged country dotted with more than 1,000 strip-mine lakes, steep-sided hills, and dense vegetation. These areas are now a popular outdoor destination for birding, camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking, mountain biking, mushroom and berry picking, and provides countless opportunities for photographers. But until the 1970’s, the land was like many others in Southeast Kansas: a mining operation.

Mined Land Public Wildlife & Fishing Areas are near Cherokee, Chicopee, Columbus, Frontenac, Pittsburg, Scammon, Weir, and West Mineral, Kansas.


On the edge of where the Great Plains meet the Ozark Plateau, like the rest of the state, the area was once primarily rollings fields of prairie grasses with wooded areas only along creeks. From the 1920’s through 1974, however, all but 2,000 acres of the property now known as the “Mined Lind Wildlife Areas” was surface mined for coal. Electric shovels pushed topsoil aside to reveal the valuable coal beneath, leaving steep hills surrounding the “strip pits”. Frequently in grid patterns, these shovels dug uniquely shaped strip-mine lakes ranging in size from 1/4 acre to 50 acres, and up to 60 feet deep.

Species Identified

After years of inactivity, there are more than 1,500 acres of water, native grass and some cool-season grasses have returned to 4,000 acres of the property. The other 9,000 acres is densely covered in bur oak, hackberry, hickory, pin oak, and walnut, with a thick understory of blackberry, dogwood, green briar, honeysuckle, and poison ivy.

The combination of native grassland, water, and dense forest attract bald eagles, beavers, bobwhite quail, cottontails, cranes, damselflies, dragonflies, eastern turkey, egrets, fox squirrel, frogs, hawks, herons, mourning dove, porcupines, red-eared sliders and other turtles, snakes, waterfowl, and whitetail deer.

Fish found in these pits, many of which are spring-fed, include bluegill, brown trout, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, redear sunfish, walleye, warmouth bass, wiper (striped bass & white bass hybrid).

Public Use

Vehicle permits are not required for the Mined Lands Wildlife Area, but off road vehicle and horse use is prohibited. Camping is allowed, but campers are asked to stay on the maintained roads for their own safety. The bison pen located on Unit #1 is closed to all activities year around.

On all designated dove fields, hunters are required to use non-toxic shot. No firearms are allowed on Units 1, 21, 23, 47, and a portion of 22, but archery equipment may be used on these units for hunting. Unit 1 is also a nonalcoholic unit.

Swimming is not allowed in the Mined Lind areas for safety reasons. More than 80 concrete and gravel boat rams are available throughout the area. Set lines are prohibited. Channel Cat 15″ length limit, 5 fish daily. Crappie 50 fish limit. Largmouth Bass 13-18″ slot limit, 5 per day. Spotted Bass 15″ length limit 5 per day. Walleye 18″ length limit, 2 per day. Wiper 18″ length limit, 2 per day. Rainbow trout 5 per day. Must have a trout permit if 16 years of age or older. Younger than 16 an angler can catch 2 per day or buy trout permit and then catch 5. Brown trout 20″ or longer, 1 per day.

Cabins are available for rent year round for overnight stays. Two deluxe cabins overlook the trout lake at Mined Land Wildlife Area. Coal Ridge and Mine 19 cabins offer one bedroom with a full-size bed and a futon. A bathroom offers a large walk-in shower. A large front room has a full kitchen with stove, refrigerator, microwave, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, and basic kitchen tools. Also included are a toaster, coffee maker, and filters. You will find additional sleeping accommodations in the front room with a twin-size Murphy bed and a futon. Each cabin is air conditioned and heated. A picnic area outside offers a fire ring, barbecue grill, and picnic table. A large front porch will beckon you to sit a spell. These cabins are ADA accessible and are open all year.

Big Brutus is the centerpiece of a mining museum on the west end of Unit 44, just west of West Mineral, Kansas.


Acquired primarily by donation, the Mined Land Wildlife Area is maintained by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism as an attraction area. The first land donation was in 1926. The largest donation, 8,208 acres, came in 1981.

Since 2005, the KDWPT has partnered with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to improve the property and reduce hazards caused by remnants of the area’s mining. To manage the property, the KDWPT oversees prescribed burns, wildlife plantings, native grass restoration and water level management.

The property is managed with federal wildlife restoration money, state wildlife fee fund money, and from agricultural income generated on the property.

Contact Information

Wildlife & Parks Main office: (620) 431-0380

Mined Land Wildlife Area Field Office
507 E 560th Ave
Pittsburg, KS 66762
(620) 231-3173

Mined Land Wildlife Area Field Office
7545 NW Belleview Rd
Columbus, KS 66725
(620) 827-6301