Wednesday, April 24, 2019

DEP Announces $25 Million In Federal Funding For 7 Mine Reclamation Projects

On April 24, the Department of Environmental Protection announced the approval of $25 million in federal funding for environmental cleanup and revitalization projects at abandoned mine land (AML) locations across Pennsylvania.
“The approved abandoned mine cleanup projects will help eliminate public health and safety hazards and improve stream, groundwater, and land quality,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The funding is an important investment in the community from environmental, recreational, and economic development standpoints.”
The local community and economic development projects include three surface mine reclamation projects, one acid mine drainage treatment or remediation project, three coal refuse pile/culm bank remediation projects, and a historic mining preservation project to move a historic mine fan and other artifacts to a mine museum.
Project funding comes from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) 2018 AML Pilot Program, which specifically targets abandoned mine cleanup projects that are linked to local community and economic development goals.
This is the third year that Pennsylvania has received funding from the AML Pilot Program.
The following projects were recently approved:
-- Butler County: Slippery Rock Creek AMD Treatment, Education, and Recreation: The project will fund needed maintenance on five existing passive treatment systems located in Brady and Washington townships. Additionally, the project will enhance educational, recreational, and tourism activities by restoring the Foltz Schoolhouse, which is part of the Jennings Environmental Educational Center, and provide significant repairs to bridges and trails on the North Country National Scenic Trail System.
-- Carbon County: No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum Complex/Dorrance Colliery: This project will carefully dismantle and transport historic ventilation fans and steam engines from their location in Luzerne County to a mine museum in Carbon County where the pieces will be reconditioned and reassembled. The project significantly expands the No.9 Mine and Mine Museum Complex, preserves unique pieces of coal mining history, and strengthens the presence of historic sites in the coal mining area. The project is expected to increase visitation by 15 to 20 percent at the tour site and increase utilization of all types of visitor services in the vicinity.
-- Clearfield County: Morgan Run Recreational Facility – West Decatur Post Office: Reclamation of 3,700 feet of dangerous highwall, 20 acres of spoil area, and seven acres of subsidence area. The project will lead to the expanded use of the facilities for CenClear and other local organizations, a mile of multi-use recreational trail, a parking lot for public using the facility, and an increase of jobs for CenClear.
-- Clinton County: Huling Branch East: Reclamation of 3,000 feet of dangerous highwalls, a 10-acre dangerous pile and embankment consisting of acid-forming shale, a half-acre slurry pond, and two acres of gob material. The project includes construction of 5,000 feet of ATV trails within Sproul State Forest, construction of a grass parking area and flat area to be used by helicopters for emergency evacuations, improvement of trout stocking fisheries, and will establish a more natural environment for elk which are starting to migrate toward the area. The project will encourage tourism, outdoor recreation, and improve watershed quality.
-- Luzerne County: Earth Conservancy Bliss Bank 4: Reclamation of 31 acres of AML refuse/culm banks of the overall 220-acre Bliss Bank project, including the reclamation of a section of Espy Creek. This project allows the site to be developed in anticipation of nationwide companies potentially coming to the area, creating more than 1,000 permanent full-time jobs.
-- Northumberland County: Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA), Bear Valley Southwest: Reclamation of 88 acres of AML surface mine highwalls, a hazardous water-filled pit, and spoil piles. The project will expand the AOAA trails to include approximately 6,600 feet of extreme rock crawling trails, re-establish and/or construct approximately 4,370 feet of off-road/ATV/dirt bike trails, and create a new recreational attraction for public use that will boost the local economy.
-- Susquehanna and Wayne Counties: Forest City East Fish & Boat Commission Access: Reclamation of 55 acres of AML that will eliminate dangerous and erosive refuse/culm banks and a dangerous AML mine structure. The site will be used as a future community attraction for fishing and canoeing and will create job and development opportunities.
The projects are now out on bid and the final cost will not be known until the contracts are awarded.
Visit DEP’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation webpage for more information on Pennsylvania’s efforts to reclaim abandoned mines.
Reauthorizing Federal AML Fee
On March 28, DEP, the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and Trout Unlimited appeared before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources advocating for the reauthorization of the federal abandoned mine reclamation fee that supports these reclamation efforts.
They also supported federal legislation, since introduced as RECLAIM, to make the Pilot Program supporting these projects more permanent.
They also supported a federal Good Samaritan Program to allow community-based partners to taken on the job of reclaiming abandoned mines without fear of continuing liability.
(Photo: Ehrenfeld Mine Reclamation Project, Cambria County.)
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