U.S. Department of the Interior

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Initiatives and Projects

This is a list of OSMRE's major Projects and Initiatives. Please click on any of these links to learn more about the project.

Acid Drainage Technology Initiative (ADTI) - Acid mine drainage (AMD) has been a detrimental by-product of coal mining for many years. At present, acid mine drainage continues to pose a potential problem in some areas, despite improved prediction and prevention techniques.

Bat Conservation - Information on Bat Conservation and Mining Technology Transfer at OSMRE.

Coal Combustion Residue - Work related to coal combustion by-products and coal mining.

Dam Safety Program - Approaches to Dam Safety have evolved throughout the years because of knowledge gained through dam failures. Dam Safety Programs have become a significant element in many agencies to ensure protection of the public and the environment by reducing risks associated with dams.

Coal operators inform an OSMRE training course class about the reclamation of one of their surface coal mine sites. Environmental Justice - OSMRE strives to provide outstanding management of the natural and cultural resources entrusted to us in a manner that is sustainable, equitable, accessible, and inclusive of all populations.

Geomorphic Reclamation - Traditional approaches to mined land reclamation frequently disturb the stability of the existing natural landforms and add expensive and often times unnatural measures to try to fix the resulting problems. Hills and valleys are flattened out into uniform slopes or terraced to create stable land forms. Streams are often replaced by rock lined ditches or removed entirely. Due to today’s modern advances in technology it is now possible to quickly and inexpensively design stable landforms and streams that mimic both the look and the functionality of nature.

Geospatial Technologies - OSMRE remains committed to the use of geospatial technologies to meet current and future SMCRA needs. We have established the GeoCommittee (geospatial committee) to discover, review and promote technology and tools for use in this field. Geospatial data provides us with a “place-based” perspective of environmental and geographic changes to the locations where mining and reclamation is occurring, or has occurred, and the environmental impact to surrounding land masses and communities.

Mine Fires - Fires are burning within underground coal seams around the world, sending tons of soot, toxic vapors and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, polluting ground water and leading to mine subsidence as the coal is consumed. In the United States a fire in an underground coal seam in Colorado sparked a blaze that scorched more than 12,000 acres of forest, destroyed two dozen homes, and threatened the resort town of Glenwood Springs.

National Fish Habitat Action Plan - The National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) is the the first nationwide, consolidated effort to protect, improve, and restore habitat for fish and other aquatic species. OSMRE and its State and Tribal partners have an important role in this initiative by identifying, prioritizing, and reclaiming abandoned mine lands (AML) that are impacting fish and aquatic habitats. OSMRE and State and Tribal reclamation agencies have improved water quality and fish habitat conditions in hundreds of watersheds throughout the U.S. by reclaiming physical habitat, restoring stream segments, treating acid-forming materials, reducing erosion, and neutralizing polluted coal mine discharges. Native fish species such as brook trout (Salvilinus fontinalis) have suffered from habitat loss and water pollution because they once shared may of the mountainous eastern U.S. watersheds where coal has been mined over the last century. A survey in the 1990's by OSMRE and EPA identified several thousand miles of streams with extirpated or reduced fish populations in the northern Appalachian states. The condition of many of these stream and river segments is slowly improving through the work of the AML program. Several AML projects have benefited from NFHP's focused, multi-agency restoration efforts and regional partnerships. For example, the South Fork Little Conemaugh River in Pennsylvania was named one of NFHP's "10 Waters to Watch in 2009" and today, a viable brook trout population has been restored in a four-mile segment of this heavily-mined watershed.

Reforestation - Reforestation is the re-establishment of a natural forest system on formerly mined lands or other deforested sites. Forest reclamation of coal mined lands benefits the environment, economy, landowners, local community, wildlife, and improves carbon sequestration.

Underground Mine Mapping - Underground mine maps provide vital information for engineers, scientists, community and transportation planners, developers, and regulators for making decisions on land use development, property purchase, and environmental protection.

VISTA Initiative - In 2002, the Office of Surface Mining (OSMRE), AmeriCorps VISTA and local community non-profits initiated the award-winning OSMRE/VISTA Teams. The OSMRE/VISTA Teams have been recognized by federal, state, and local entities for their innovative partnerships originally designed to bring environmental and economic improvement to the Appalachian Coalfields and then later to the mining districts in the West.

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 6/3/14

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