Tom Grote Receives 2017 Mayfly Award At PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference

The 2017 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference in June was another success in the heart of the Wyoming Valley and the Northern Anthracite coal fields Wilkes-Barre.

One of the highlights was recognition of Tom Grote with this year’s Mayfly Award to celebrate his lifetime of knowledge and expertise on the reclamation of abandoned mines in Pennsylvania.

Tom, a school teacher for many years, helped found the Loyalhanna Watershed Association in Westmoreland County,  contributed to the Slippery Rock Watershed Conservation Plan for the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition and Stream Restoration Inc., served as a volunteer for the Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Restoration, is on the steering committee for the Conference, and much more.

The mayfly was selected as the symbol for this award because its presence in a stream signifies clean water.  Each Mayfly Award is a unique piece of art.  This year’s artist was Michael Bestwick from Fenelton, Butler County.

The theme of 2017 Conference was-- The Future of Reclamation in PA.  Programs focused on the future of coal mining directly related to the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Trust Fund

The Fund was created in 1977 by a small fee levied per ton of coal mined through the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to address economic and environmental devastation due to historic mining issues) both in Pennsylvania and nationwide.

 Economics, job creation potential, community revitalization, economic redevelopment opportunities, recreational opportunities, the decline of coal mining, the design and construction of mixed use industrial parks and educational opportunities for future workers were all topics of discussion as the Conference looked to transition from the Commonwealth’s degraded abandoned mine landscapes into new regional economic opportunities through mine reclamation.

A full day tour of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys’ abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and abandoned mine reclamation (AMR) projects, led by Mike Hewitt and Robert Hughes of the Eastern Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation was another highlight of the conference.

Shaun Busler of the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition and other participants enjoyed a firsthand look at the progress that has been made over the last few decades as well as some serious challenges ahead in the Anthracite Region.

Included on the tour were some very large multi-colliery AMD discharges-- upwards of 100 CFS, 45K GPM or 65 MGD depending on your preferred units of measure.

The tour included stops at Old Forge Borehole, the largest mine drainage flow in the Anthracite Region, at 100 cubic feet per second; visits to massive waste coal piles; Solomon’s Boreholes, containing an “AMD fountain” and a recent project to protect homes from a mine water backup in their basements; Askam Borehole Treatment System, an innovative oxidation technology in place to drop iron and boost pH; and Red Lake, a 20-acre lake of AMD, which has recently invoked some cautious optimism with the possible return of wildlife to the site.

 The surrounding watersheds of Luzerne and Lackawanna County have their challenges, but they also have had opportunities that were taken to improve the local environment, land, and streams impacted by AMD.

The Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition is excited to share in the successes of watersheds around the state as we all work to improve water quality and land habitat!

You are encouraged to participate in next year’s AMR Conference!  Click Here to keep in touch with Conference planners.

(Photo: Askam Borehole Treatment System in Luzerne County by the Earth Conservancy from the Conference tour)

(Reprinted from information in the July Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition Catalyst newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)


Op-Ed: Gov. Wolf Must Veto Bill Retroactively Removing Stream Protections From Mining

[Posted: July 4, 2017]


Go To Preceding Article     Go To Next Article

Return to This PA Environment Digest's Main Page