Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Centre County Mine Reclamation Project Provides Cleaner Water, Better Wildlife Habitat

Work has begun on an abandoned mine reclamation project on State Game Lands 100 in Snowshoe Township, Centre County that has been seeping harmful acid drainage into waterways on and downstream of the game lands
The project is funded through the Growing Greener Watershed Protection program with a $1,003,139 grant sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Acid mine drainage is a major problem for water quality in the bituminous coal fields of Pennsylvania. It is a result of past unregulated coal mining, and mines that never were reclaimed to restore habitat.
The acid mine drainage on State Game Lands 100 discharges into Contrary Run, which is a tributary to Beech Creek.
The project will reclaim the abandoned mine land and neutralize the acidic water in Contrary Run by adding a limestone filter to passively treat the water discharging into the stream.
Berner Construction Inc., a Women Business Enterprise located in Gap, Pa., was awarded the construction contract through a competitive bid process. The project will include reclamation of 40 acres of abandoned mine land with 3,300 linear feet of dangerous highwalls.  
The highwalls are steep, exposed cliffs that create unsafe conditions for people and wildlife.  The high-quality grassland to be established as part of the reclamation will provide excellent habitat for elk, white-tailed deer, turkeys and other game and nongame species.
The project area is adjacent to several other previously abandoned mine areas that recently were reclaimed, resulting in over 180 acres of improved wildlife habitat.
Due to the many habitat-improvement projects, an expanding elk herd exists on State Game Lands 100 and surrounding areas.
For the first time in modern history, the Game Commission issued five elk hunting licenses in 2015 for the hunt zone including State Game Lands 100, resulting in the successful harvest of two bull elk.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. For over 25 years, RMEF has been an important conservation partner in Pennsylvania’s elk management program by funding the preservation or enhancement of nearly 21,000 acres of valuable habitat in the northcentral region.
The project was designed and is being managed by Alder Run Engineering LLC, with oversight from the Centre County Conservation District and DEP.  Construction and revegetation of the site should be completed in 2016.
More information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation website.

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