Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference June 22-23 At IUP

The 2016 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference will be held from June 22 to 23 at the Indiana University of PA Kovalchick Conference Center in Indiana, PA.  The theme of this year’s Conference is Economics and the Environment.  From the Conference announcement--
No longer can we just take into consideration the number of stream miles are being restored, the number of abandoned mine land acres being reclaimed, the numbers of trees planted on a mine site or along a riparian corridor in our mining impacted watersheds.
Those numbers that we report to various funders and government agencies don’t tell the whole story. We need to start telling the whole story…
The bigger picture involves economics, community revitalization, redevelopment opportunities, creating jobs, recreational opportunities gained through fishing, hiking, kayaking and “on-the-water” events, just to name a few.  
Ideas like design and construction of mixed use industrial and business parks on former mine lands brings back those lands into productive use and generating taxes again for the local governments.  
Local governments invest that tax money back into the community via improved roads and infrastructure.  
The proper creation of trails and off-road recreational vehicle parks reduce fishery impacts and curtail pollution input by employing best management practices.  
Even bolder plans like harnessing mine water to generate hydroelectric power or recovery and sales of metal oxides to fund continual operation, maintenance and eventual replacement (OM&R) of treatment systems.  
Our partners at ARIPPA currently clean up mountains of waste coal piles, burn the coal and rock to generate electricity, and lay the alkaline-rich ash back into pits in such a way that it seals off surface water infiltration into the mines.
With funding dwindling due to rough economic times, we have to be creative and promote projects that tie to economic growth and other benefits that are difficult to measure…  
How do all of these examples of economic recovery of our coalfield communities truly benefit our environment?  Let’s put our heads together and figure it out!  Then we can tell the whole story of our accomplishments…
Bringing Back Field Tours
This year we listened to the overwhelming suggestions by last year’s attendees who were begging us to bring back the abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation and mine drainage (AMD) remediation tours.  
In order to do that we had to move the conference away from State College, because, well, we have seen all the AML impacts there are to see in that immediate area.
Many aspects of the tour(s) we are planning will highlight those benefits mentioned above and give our attendees a first hand look at what may have been considered intangible in the past.
The surrounding watersheds of Indiana County outside of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, have lots of success stories to offer.  We have dedicated the entire day June 22nd to touring the sites and then the evening to networking and a community dinner that night.
20+ Professional Presentations
For June 23rd, we are working on a series of presentations that will begin to touch on the need to highlight, with a greater sense of accomplishment, the value of dollars that are leveraged by the numerous projects being completed in our watersheds across state and not just on a project by project basis.  
There will be science too for those of us who crave it, but we can sometimes lose sight of the economic importance and revitalization of our communities that we, as citizens, volunteers, and partners within government are trying to achieve.
The environment and economics do go hand in hand.  They are complementary to one another in our line of work.  They are two vital components of improving the quality of life for our Commonwealth’s coalfield communities.
Join us this year as we ask our presenters and tour guides to “show me the money!” so that we can continue to convince our funders to “give us the money!”  
Money spent on environmental projects uplifts and builds the capacity within our mining impacted communities to achieve greener landscapes and clean water!
For more information, visit the PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference website.

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