Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Award Winners

Winning projects go beyond reclamation requirements to achieve superior results in returning a site to productive use after completion of mining. Listed below is information on winners since 2017. For information on winners since 1992, please contact

OSMRE presents five awards:

  • One national award
  • One national award for small projects (restricted to projects receiving less than $1 million in a state or tribe that receives less than $6 million annually in AML funding)
  • Three region-based awards


2021 National Award Winner

DeRonde Site Southeast Iowa
Reclamation of the DeRonde site required cleaning up 70 acres of highwalls, spoil piles, polluted water bodies, and much more. 


2021 Regional Award Winners

Dutchman Canyon Site, New Mexico
The Dutchman Canyon Site project reclaimed nearly 200,000 cubic yards of coal waste, steep unstable piles, a local stream and more more. 


Wolf Branch Middle School, Illinois
The Wolf Branch Middle School suffered from a dangerous landslide that involved reclaiming the site and remediating the gymnasium, multi-purpose room, band room, kitchen, and lockers. 


Stineman Refuse Pile: Path of the Flood Trail, Pennsylvania
The Stineman Refuse Pile project reclaimed over 600,000 cubic yards of refuse, installed riparian buffers, and much more. 


2021 Small Project Award

Noonan Foamed Sand Project, North Dakota
Subsidence features within the Harris M. Baukol Wildlife Management Area, posed a hazard to the public. The site itself however posed a learning opportunity for the North Dakota AML Program. The reclamation efforts charted new techniques and innovation.


2020 National Award Winner

Ehrenfeld AML Pilot Reclamation/Recreation & Watershed Improvement Project, Pennsylvania
Approximately 70 acres of coal refuse piles located along the "Johnstown Path of the Flood Trail," posed multiple environmental threats to the area. Frequent erosion clogged an unnamed tributary to the Little Conemaugh River, as a result, highly acidic water leached into and subsequently impaired local streams, burning areas of refuse piles and degrading air quality for the residents. To address these hazards, Pennsylvania's AML Program removed the refuse piles, eliminated the surface burning conditions and improved the Little Conemaugh watershed. The reclamation project has resulted in new opportunities for recreation and tourism with the addition of a community park and safer walking trails.


2020 Regional Award Winners

Ridgeway Drive (Ferrell & McDaniel) Landslide Emergencies, West Virginia
In 2018, West Virginia received two different reports of landslides within the same neighborhood. Calls from concerned residents regarding these slides, and the subsequent investigations by West Virginia's AML program, revealed that more than 10 homes were threatened, while another home had slid partially downhill. With the threat to people's lives and property imminent, West Virginia's quick response abated the threats to the residents and helped to stabilize their properties, preventing further damage and economic loss. 


Buttermilk Highwalls, AML Site 1820, Indiana
Two large and dangerous highwalls located near a public road posed a danger to anyone driving, hiking, hunting or fishing near the Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area. Indiana's AML program worked with one of its sister agencies in the Indiana DNR to address the hazards. This collaborative effort eliminated 1,615 linear feet of dangerous highwalls while mitigating future acid mine drainage (AMD) problems, improving wetland areas, and providing better wildlife habitat, all of which improved recreational opportunities at the site. 


The Carrick Mine AML Project, North Dakota
A 20-acre abandoned mine site located near two popular recreation areas contained dangerous highwalls and a large, water-filled pit. The site not only posed a hazard to the public, but also raised liability concerns for private landowners who used the property as horse pasture and a hunting area. North Dakota's AML program addressed these issues by eliminating approximately 1,300 feet of dangerous highwalls, creating a pond that recharges fresh water, and preserving a prehistoric, petrified tree stump, estimated to be between 55 and 60 million years old. 


2020 Small Project Award Winner

Ruffner Mountain Portals AML Project, Alabama
Open mine portals in a nature preserve adjacent to several popular hiking trails posed a danger not only to the public, but also to the over 600 Tricolor bats that called the portals home. When a bat study confirmed the presence of White-nose syndrome within the bat population, the urgency to limit human entry to the portals was heightened. Alabama's AML program reclaimed the site, resolving public safety concerns while minimizing the ecological impact to the local area.


2019 National Award Winner

Dessecker Mine Project, Ohio
The land owned by the Camp Tuscazoar Foundation and the Boy Scouts, was subjected to a number of health, safety, property and general welfare threats from historic mining, including acid mine drainage, open mine portals, and hazardous equipment left in the open. To address the hazards, Ohio’s AML Program sealed the portals, eliminated a dangerous highwall, removed hundreds of tons of debris, and preserved historically significant mining assets for the next generation. The state formed a partnership with the community to solve many of the AML problems. The result now allows Scouts, visitors and people living nearby to enjoy the former mine site safely. 


2019 Regional Award Winner

Roger Cornett Slide, Kentucky
On a rainy Friday night in April 2018, Kentucky received a call from a resident concerned about a sudden landslide near his home, his rental properties, and a neighbor’s house. The landslide brought down tons of mud, trees, and old coal, threatening people’s lives and property. Kentucky’s quick response abated the threats to the residents and the safety of their property. 


Narrow Lake Abandoned Mine Land Site 1805, Indiana
A dangerous and large highwall loomed above a road and a lake in the Greene-Sullivan State Forest, posing a danger to anyone driving, hiking, or fishing near Narrow Lake. Indiana’s AML program worked with two sister agencies in the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to address the AML hazard. The collaborative effort removed almost 4,000 linear feet of highwall, and the agencies created additional cabin areas, built a new boat ramp, constructed more than a mile of trails, and added new fish habitat, all of which improved recreational opportunities at the site. 


Wise Hill Underground Fire Mitigation, Colorado
One of the biggest underground mine fires in Colorado burned for more than 70 years, frustrating repeated efforts to contain or extinguish it. After several unsuccessful attempts to suffocate it, the fire migrated thousands of feet, grew in size, and threatened a nearby coal mine, and a town. The fire also generated toxic gases and heat that could have ignited surface vegetation, potentially leading to wildfires. Colorado’s program used methods learned from a previous underground mine fire project to mitigate the threat and contain the fire deep underground, minimizing the danger of wildfire and toxic fumes. 


2019 Small Project Award Winner

Marvel Gob Fire, Alabama
An ongoing mine fire at Alabama’s old Marvel mines caused havoc in a small community with surface temperatures reaching as high as 930 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface. More than an acre of gob material was burning, generating noxious odors, smoke and fog. Alabama’s AML program put out the fire, and reclaimed the site in 50 working days. The project is considered small in scale by reclamation standards, but for people living nearby, Alabama’s AML Program solved an important community concern. 


2018 National Award Winner

Logan Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Project, Iowa
Prior to reclamation, the site’s barren, eroded spoil piles and pits were concealed by invasive shrubs, stunted trees, and a small plot of pines. The Logan Reclamation Project provided several opportunities to adopt and refine new approaches to overcome technical challenges. The site was seeded with plants that attract pollinators, in particular monarch butterflies. The effort is already showing results. The vegetation is attracting local wildlife, including a goose nest and a beaver dam. 


2018 Regional Award Winners

Joan Bernat Slide Project, Kentucky
The Joan Bernat Slide High Priority Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Project was completed at the historic coal camp town of Hardburly, near Hazard, Kentucky. In May 2016, local residents reported that a slide had occurred on a hillside above multiple residences and feared that further movement would threaten their homes. Hazard KDAML Emergency Branch personnel hastily worked to reroute the drainage above the slide, controlling drainage and silt from the slide, and improving drainage structures near the homes. The actions of the state and partners brought peace of mind to the residents of Hardburly. 

Snow Hill Abandoned Mine Land Site 882 Project, Indiana
The Snow Hill Abandoned Mine Land project addressed public safety concerns and environmental damage caused by two large, coarse, coal refuse piles, with a total area of 40 acres on each side of North Coal Creek in Vigo County, Indiana. Acid mine drainage and eroding coal refuse from the two refuse piles clogged the North Coal Creek channel and substantially degraded its water quality. The Division of Reclamation took actions to make the area safe for the community by installing drainage structures, establishing a wetland, and regrading the coal refuse embankments. 

Hydraulic Pit Reclamation Project, Alaska
Coal mined in the first half of the 20th century by various companies created 3.5 miles of large open pits along the south side of Healy Creek. The highwall extended for 1,600 feet in length and stood as high as 265 feet. The reclamation project eliminated the dangerous high wall, improved safety, conserved and improved water quality, enhanced wildlife habitat, and augmented recreation opportunities. 

Watch the 2018 Alaska Regional Award Winner video here.


2018 Small Project Award Winner

Mid-Lothian Mines Park Project, Virginia
The historic Mid-Lothian Mines abandoned mine land features the remains of the first documented mining in Virginia’s Richmond Coalfields. Unfortunately, the features were in serious disrepair and disintegration. Open shafts, subsidence areas and falling structures were huge safety hazards to the surrounding residential areas. After the landowner donated the land to Chester County, the state was able to close two vertical openings, stabilize and close two hazardous equipment and facilities structures, close one subsidence area, and stabilize two pits and three slumps. Today, the Mid-Lothian Historical Mines Park comprises the 42-acre reclamation site and is the most visited park in the county.

Watch the 2018 Small Project Award Winner video here.


National Award Winner:

2017 National Award Winner

Huling Branch AML Reclamation/ATV Recreation and Watershed Improvement Project, Pennsylvania
This AML reclamation project is responsible for the elimination of dangerous highwalls, removal of spoil piles and the reduction of acid mine drainage impacts on surface and groundwater. As a result the site is now open to allterrain vehicles (ATVs). The project team also used the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) to reforest the land.

2017 Regional Award Winners

Bell Central School HP AML Reclamation Project, Kentucky
This project stabilized a landslide area near a school access road and parking lot that posed a serious threat to student and staff safety. Reclamation was finally completed after previous unsuccessful attempts to secure funding.


Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area 2 Project, Indiana
This AML reclamation project fixed several dangerous highwalls and an eroding gob pile near a fish and wildlife area. The project was further complicated by excess water from a flooded underground mine near the site.


Madrid Low Impact Stormwater Project, New Mexico
This AML reclamation effort brought together an assorted group of citizens living and working in a small historic coal town to address sediment-producing gob piles from a mining site dating back more than 180 years.


2017 Small Project Award Winner

Hurricane Fork Gob Pile Project, Virginia
This AML reclamation project leveraged new technologies and community partnerships to address one of southwest Virginia’s worst mine-related watershed impacts.