DEP Honored For Clarion County Abandoned Mine Reclamation Project

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday announced that its Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation has received the 2015 Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative Award for an abandoned mine project in Elk Township, Clarion County.

“This area has languished for nearly 50 years with dangerous highwalls, pits, and erosion issues,” DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations John Stefanko said. “The work done at this site has not only enhanced the environment, but created a new, safe area of recreation for area residents and sportsmen alike.”

The award acknowledged the project’s successful use of the Forestry Reclamation Approach which allows for natural tree growth through soil blending and grading, planting ground cover, and diversifying tree varieties. This technique also reduced stormwater runoff into the nearby Deer Creek Watershed.

The Elk Township site was last mined by A.B. Weaver and Sons in 1967. Since that time, is has been scarred by a large pit, a 6-feet deep water impoundment, and tons of waste coal. The site had very little vegetation, making erosion and sedimentation control a concern for resident safety and the quality of local waterways.

The site was reclaimed by grading the land to its original contour, backfilling the water impoundment, and planting trees and other vegetation. The project covered 17.4 acres, eliminated 1,300 linear feet of dangerously steep waste coal piles, ranging from 25 to 45 feet high, and included a planting of 9,200 trees.

Native tree species, selected to promote natural forest succession, included: northern red oak, white oak, red pine, eastern white pine (Virginia white pine), gray (sweet) birch, quaking aspen, red maple, tulip poplar, black cherry and sugar maple. Earthen berms were also installed and windrow wildlife habitats were created. Portions of the site were re-vegetated with grasses and legumes.

The project was designed and inspected by DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation staff in Cambria County. The work was conducted by Morgan’s Excavating of Shippenville, Clarion County.

This project was financed by the federal Abandoned Mine Land Grant. This grant program is funded by the coal industry via fees paid on each ton of coal mined.

The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative =Excellence in Reforestation Awards are presented each year to honor both active and abandoned coal mine reclamation operations from each state in the Appalachian Region that best exemplify the use of FRA in conducting reclamation operations.

ARRI is a coalition of groups, including citizens, the coal industry, and government agencies dedicated to restoring forests on coal mined lands in the Eastern United States. ARRI advocates using FRA to plant trees on reclaimed coal mined lands. Highly productive forestland can be created on reclaimed mine lands under existing laws and regulations by using FRA.

Click Here for a fact sheet on the project.


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