AML Reclamation Awards Winners
The Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Awards, established in 1992, recognize exemplary state and tribal reclamation projects that reclaim coal mine sites that were abandoned prior to the signing of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). OSMRE recognizes five categories of AML reclamation excellence. A panel of judges composed of directors of state and tribal reclamation programs and OSMRE managers vote to determine awardees.
OSMRE is pleased to announce the winners of its 2020 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards. This year’s winning projects represent the nation’s highest achievements in Abandoned Mine Land (AML) reclamation demonstrating innovative reclamation techniques and completing reclamation that resulted in outstanding on-the-ground performance.
Read the OSMRE Press release about the 2020 AML Reclamation Awards.
- National Award:
- 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 Read the Press Release for more information.
Watch the National Award Winner video.
- Regional Awards:
- 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. Read the Press Release for more information.
Watch the video.
- 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. Read the Press Release for more information.
Watch the video.
- 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. Read the Press Release for more information.
Watch the video.
- Small Project Award:
- 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. Read the Press Release for more information.
Watch the video.
- National Award:
- 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. Read the Press Release for Ohio for more information.
Watch the National Award Winner video.
- Regional Awards:
- 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. Read the Press Release for Kentucky for more information.
Watch the video.
- 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. Read the Press Release for Indiana for more information.
Watch the video.
- 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. Read the Press Release for Colorado for more information.
Watch the video.
- Small Project Award:
OSMRE recognizes a project that cost less than $1 million and is in a state that receives less than $6 million in AML funds
- 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. Read the Press Release for Alabama for more information.
Watch the Small Project Award Winner video.
- National Award:
- 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. Read the Press Release for Iowa for more information.
Watch the National Award Winner video.
- Appalachian Region Award:
- 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. Read the Press Release for Kentucky for more information.
Watch the Appalachian Region Award Winner video.
- Mid-Continent Region Award:
- 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. Read the Press Release for Indiana for more information.
Watch the Mid-Continent Region Award Winner video.
- Western Region Award:
- 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. Read the Press Release for Alaska for more information.
Watch the Western Region Award Winner video.
- Small Project Award:
OSMRE recognizes a project that cost less than $1 million and is in a state that receives less than $6 million in AML funds
- 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. Read the Press Release for Virginia for more information.
Watch the Small Project Award Winner video.
- OSMRE Acting Director Glenda Owens presented the awards at the 39th annual National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) conference in Lexington, Kentucky, September 24-27, 2017, during the AML Awards Banquet. Read the OSMRE Media Advisory about the 2017 AML Awards.
- 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.
Watch the National Award Winner video.
- Appalachian Regional Award:
- 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.
Watch the Appalachian Regional Award Winner video.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner:
- 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.
Watch the Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner video.
- Western Regional Award Winner:
- 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.
Watch the Western Regional Award Winner video.
- 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.
Watch the Small Project Award Winner video.
- National Award Winner: Sand Coulee Water System Restoration Project, Great Falls, Montana - The judges selected the Sand Coulee Water System Restoration Project as the National Award Winner for overcoming multiple obstacles and successfully restoring safe and abundant water to the Sand Coulee community.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Mather,PA – Reclaiming a Company Town, Morgan Township, Green County, PA - The judges selected the Mather, PA Reclaiming a Company Town project as the Appalachian Regional Award Winner for the reclamation of a refuse pile than can now support recreational options for Mather and Greene County residents. These options were previously unavailable - hiking trails, soccer and baseball fields, and plenty of space for picnic areas.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Highway 15 Pit Subsidence Emergency Project, St. Clair, County, Illinois - The judges choose the Highway 15 Pit Subsidence Emergency Project as the Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner for stabilizing the dangerous pit type subsidence. This type of subsidence include deep sided holes that form in the ground surface as the result of roof collapse within room and pillar mines.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Coyote Canyon Coal Fire Mitigation, Coyote Canyon, New Mexico - The judges choose the Coyote Canyon Coal Fire Mitigation Project as the Western Regional Award Winner for permanently extinguishing a coal seam fire that had been burning on the Navajo Nation, within the boundaries of the Coyote Canyon Chapter.
- Small Project Award Winner: Halleck Mine AML Project, Bowman, North Dakota - The judges choose the Halleck Mine AML Project as the Small Project Award Winner for their innovative use of current technology. The geophysical survey confirmed the importance of the reclamation of the entry tunnel. Surveys of drill holes combined with ArcGIS and aerial imagery increased the accuracy of the mine maps reducing the number of drill holes needed. A borehole camera provided detailed information on mine conditions to help develop a cost effective solution.
- More information on these award winners can be found on the 2016 AML Winners web page.
- National Award Winner: Lake Valley Mine Safeguard Projects, Lake Valley, Sierra Country, New Mexico - The judges chose the Lake Valley project for very challenging conditions due to the large number of dangerous mine openings, the presence of weak subsurface soil and rock, and the presence of deteriorated cribbing and near-surface underground workings. The project team utilized creative technical solutions to address the issues on the site. Toroid tire plugs were a very innovative use of new technology utilizing material that would normally be a waste product, and geosynthetically confined soil was an affordable engineering technique that provided a reliable closure solution. A project that utilized international resources, innovative closure techniques and focused on protecting bats is the National Award winner claimed the judges’ votes because of all those attributes and also the long term effort needed to finish the project.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Simpson Northeast Coal Refuse Fire Fell Township, Lackawanna County, PA - The judges selected the Simpson Northeast project for its involvement in a high-priority site that required a quick turn-around. The design team worked very quickly to start and finish the project and made sure to utilize various engineering methods to control water runoff and work around the freezing temperatures. The project was high-profile and was well received by the community. The design team utilized OSMRE resources to tackle a problem they didn't have specific experience in.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: AML Site 2052 Minnehaha Slurry, Sullivan County, Indiana - The judges chose to honor the Minnehaha Slurry site for tackling unique engineering challenges to consolidate existing slurry material into a smaller area and stabilization of the project levee through traditional earthwork and non-traditional approaches. The use of a passive bioreactor was a great use of new technologies. Geomorphic design was also included in the project and the post construction contours very well executed.
- Small Project Award Winner: Lightner/Boston Coal Mine Erosion Control Project, Durango, Colorado - The judges chose the Durango, Colorado project for its involvement, cooperation and input between several agencies, particularly Colorado and New Mexico, in order to achieve success. The project included the input of community members and the local college which helps spread the word about AML programs. The project also focused on detailed re-vegetation that was more labor intensive but ultimately created microclimates for vegetation, and therefore wildlife, to thrive.
- More information on these award winners can be found on the 2015 AML Winners web page.
- National Award Winner: AML Site 309, Mill Creek Highwall Project, Pike County, Indiana - The National Award winner is unique because it brings together both abandoned mine reclamation and current active mining, a combination that provided superior reclamation at extremely low cost. The hazard surrounding this project was a long and dangerous highwall that stretched more than eight tenths of a mile, an area that few people enjoyed driving near.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Aaron Run Watershed AMD Remediation Project, Westernport, Maryland - The Aaron Run Watershed AMD Remediation Project focused on the Savage River watershed, home to Maryland’s only intact premier population of brook trout. Acid mine drainage, or AMD, near the confluence of Aaron Run and the Savage River three miles away had killed off approximately 30% of the trout population there. The project had four primary goals: eliminate or treat several sources of acid mine drainage, return native brook trout to Aaron run, enhance the fishery economy, and remove the site from Maryland’s AMD impairment list.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: The Goff AML Reclamation Project, Marion County, Iowa - The state faced reclaiming a 180 acre site that had been abandoned for more than 50 years after decades of both underground and surface strip mining. The site included more than 500 feet of dangerous highwalls, 12 acres of waste piles and embankments, 51 acres of spoil, several impaired streams. The site also contained industrial and residential waste, and had little value for wildlife or grazing.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Smith Hill Coal Mine Reclamation, Crested Butte, Colorado - The Western Regional Award winner lies less than a mile from one of America’s best known ski resorts, Crested Butte Mountain Resort. In fact, mining at this site in Colorado goes back to 1884. More than 1.2 million tons of anthracite coal was produced before the site was abandoned in 1946. For more than 50 years, the site remained unused. During that time, the land deteriorated, buildings collapsed, and the presence of coal waste provided just enough nutrients to support invasive plant species and noxious weeds. Then, a coalition formed between the state and private owners. These partners were willing to join the Crested Butte Land Trust in taking the risk on this property that was showing a lot of degradation from historic mining.
- Small Project Award Winner: Big Ben Emergency Shaft Project, Springfield, Missouri - The 2014 Small Project Award winner is the product of a fast moving emergency that threatened two homes in the Nation’s heartland. It was about 9:30 at night in late January 2013, when a large hole opened between two homes in Springfield, Missouri. When state officials were notified two days later, they realized they were dealing with mine subsidence.
- More information on these award winners can be found on the 2014 AML Winners web page.
2013 - No Awards
- National Award Winner: The Dents Run AML/AMD Ecosystem Restoration Project, Benezette Township, Elk County, Pennsylvania - The 25 square mile Dents Run watershed is best known for its role as a home to Pennsylvania’s elk herd and its world class trout stream. However, nine historic surface and underground coal mines dating back to the 1800s were leaching acid mine drainage so heavily into the watershed that passive treatment methods would not be effective, and active treatment would be very expensive.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Lower Rock Creek Watershed Restoration Project, McCreary County, Kentucky - The McCreary project required a ten year commitment among four state agencies, eight Federal agencies, and a non-profit outdoor advocacy group to clean up the damage from acid mine drainage that rendered several miles of Lower Rock Creek sterile of aquatic life.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: I-72 Piers 3 Sag Subsidence Emergency, Sangamon County, Illinois - This project not only responded to a life-threatening emergency situation, but proved for the first time that it is possible to stop mine subsidence while it is happening. The State of Illinois discovered that two heavily traveled interstate bridges were subsiding, or slowly sinking, because of the collapse of two underground mines about 200 feet below the surface. The problem threatened both bridges structural integrity and the lives of thousands of people traveling on the road every day.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Spring Meadow Lake Abandoned Mine Reclamation Project, Helena, Lewis and Clark County, Montana - To address the heavier contaminated soil, workers mixed it into Portland cement, which trapped the heavy metals and prevented leaching. This allowed the final product to be sent to the lower-level disposal site. Workers then backfilled the area with replacement soil and rock, then graded, seeded, and planted about 13 acres. Finally, the state redeveloped the old milling structures and named it the Montana Outdoor Discovery Center.
- Small Project Award Winner: Maclean 3 Abandoned Mine Reclamation Project, Carbon County, Utah - Utah’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program worked for more than 20 years to extinguish an underground mine fire that ignited in 1945. Putting out the 67-year old fire, which migrated underground, required the use of new mapping technologies as well as creating new chemical fire retardants, while working on extremely steep slopes.
- More information on these award winners can be found on the 2012 AML Winners web page.
- National Award Winner: Newport North Project, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania - The Newport North project targeted an abandoned area that led to the deaths of six people in six years, all in one small half-acre mine pit. The combined efforts of State government, private property owners, and a citizens’ group, enabled the project to reclaim 36 acres, backfill several strip pits, eliminate 3,000 feet of dangerous highwall, and return the site to its approximate original contour.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Kempton Refuse and AMD/AML Project, Tucker County, West Virginia - The project sealed two underground mine portals, eliminated two dangerous waste impoundments, and cleared more than 2,500 feet of decaying highwalls, all of which were allowing acidic water to enter tributaries to the North Branch Potomac River.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Westercamp AML Reclamation Project, Mahaska County, Iowa - The project involved the cleanup of an underground coal mine, which included 13 polluted ponds filled with acidic water, 10 acres of industrial and residential waste (which included abandoned cars and trucks), and 26,000 feet of dangerous highwalls.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Kleenburn Coal Mine AML Site, Sheridan County, Wyoming - The project cleaned up two strip-mined pits, large piles of mine spoil, and fire hazards, and created 16 acres of usable park land for public fishing, boating, bird watching and picnicking.
- Small Project Award Winner: Thomas Acid Mine Drainage Reclamation Project, Carroll County, Ohio - The Small Project Award winner, which was 10 years in the planning phase, cleaned up acid mine drainage from underground coal and clay mining. For nearly a century, pollution at the project site was being discharged from a series of pits, deep mine leaks, and mine spoil. Project proponents returned the land to habitat for fish and wildlife.
- The Crellin Elementary School Environmental Remediation and Education Project, State of Maryland Department of the Environment, Abandoned Mine Lands Division
- Barnes-Watkins Refuse Pile Reclamation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation
- Cranes Nest Gob Pile, Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Division of Mined Land Reclamation
- The 6lst Street North SW Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Project, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Abandoned Mine Land Program
- The Temple Mountain Project, Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining, Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program
- National Award Winner: West Suscon Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Jenkins Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania - Operators graded the entire area so that it would blend in with the surrounding landscape and be developed in the future. The area is now the site of an office park with several commercial tenants.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Belden AMD Reclamation ProjectOhio, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management, Carroll County, Ohio - Work on the Belden site has restored about 4,000 feet of surface waters affecting two streams in the Huff Run watershed. This restoration primarily benefits aquatic insects and native fish such as darters and catfish, which once occurred throughout the Huff Run watershed.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Mabel New-Superior AML Reclamation Project, Railroad Commission of Texas, Surface Mining and Reclamation Division, Live Oak County, Texas - Contractors eliminated the dangerous highwalls, graded the site to a stable topography, and buried the radioactive materials in the pit bottom. As a result, post-reclamation radiation readings are lower than estimated pre-clean-up readings in about 70 percent of the project area.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Millsap Creek Tailings Reclamation Project, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, Inactive Reclamation Program, Teller County, Colorado - Reclamation work included excavation and re-grading 320,000 cubic yards of tailings, hauling and spreading 60,000 cubic yards of cover soils and rock to stabilize the reconfigured site, and mulching, seeding, and revegetating the reclaimed area.
- Small Project Award Winner: Waal West Reclamation Project, Section II, Iowa Abandoned Mine Land Program, Mines and Minerals Bureau, Mahaska County, Iowa - The State of Iowa, working in concert with local government and private citizens, succeeded in establishing a wetland and enhancing an existing wetland. An embankment created on the downstream end of the existing wetland allows water to be retained in the area for a longer time, thereby improving the quality of the entire wetland area and pond.
- Small Project Award Winner: Suntrana Tipple AML Project, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, AML Program, Healy Creek Valley, Alaska - The project demolished all onsite buildings and mitigated the contaminants — hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls, a type of persistent organic pollutant — found on the site. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation subsequently issued a clearance for this site.
- National Award Winner: Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, Inactive Mine Reclamation Program, Peanut Mine Reclamation Project, Crested Butte, Gunnison County, Colorado - At this previously impaired and once dangerous site sixteen acres of mine and mill wastes are now reclaimed, adding three new acres of wetlands. The area is currently used as a park-like open space for hiking, bicycling and other forms of outdoor recreation.
- National Award, Category II Winner: New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Mining and Minerals Division, Abandoned Mine Land Program, Yankee-Vukonich Coal Reclamation Project, Colfax County New Mexico - Mixing gob with native soil and adding lime, gypsum, wood waste and compost to support native vegetation has reclaimed much of the area to a point where the landscape conforms to undisturbed areas. Streams were geomorphically reshaped to a natural state, and historic buildings from the mining era have been preserved.
The National Award, Category II award is reserved for states or tribes receiving less than six million annually in AML funding and for projects less than one million dollars
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, The Fishing Run Restoration and Maude Mine Reclamation Project, South Fayette Township, Allegheny County Pennsylvania - Fill material from the project site and nearby areas was used to eliminate the highwalls; the open mine portal and partially sealed mine opening have been permanently closed; and, Fishing Run now has a natural stream bed designed using geomorphic principles while its banks are lined with trees.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Reclamation, Log Creek Church AML Sites 900 & 2040, Pike and Warrick Counties, Indiana - At Log Creek Church, over 70 acres of acid producing waste was sequestered, forested wetlands established and, using geomorphic modeling, sustainable stream channels and drainage areas are in place, while four thousand feet of highwall have been replaced with natural slopes.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program, Cottonwood Wash Reclamation Project, San Juan County, Utah - At Cottonwood Wash, cooperative partnering between agencies maximized both funding and expertise to reclaim 264 acres and bring the land back to productive use. Seventythree miles of mine exploration roads have been reclaimed, 213 adits have been sealed and 66 shafts are now safeguarded.
- National Award Winner: New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division, Mine Reclamation Bureau, Real De Dolores Mine Safeguard Project - Planned as a public recreation area that would give insight into the history of mining while maintaining and protecting plant and wildlife species, this project also became a demonstration and test for using lightweight plugs to close mine shafts, an important technique for reclaiming old Western mines.
- National Award, Category II Winner: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Division of Mined Land Reclamation, Buchanan County Park Highwall Elimination Project - Using OSMRE’s AML enhancement rule, which enables a contracting company to sell coal incidentally mined during reclamation, Virginia was able to complete this project at extensive savings. The result provides 20 new acres of useable, safe recreation land that is part of 50 acres that includes a football field, basketball courts, a softball field, playgrounds, volleyball courts, an outdoor amphitheater and is the site of the Buchanan County fair.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Kalp and Melcroft AMD Abatement Projects - With funding coming from OSM, Pennsylvania, US Department of Agriculture and private sources, mine drainage was abated using cross drilling techniques and lowering and treating mine pools.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Surface Mining Section, Overman AML Reclamation Project - Working around a 4 inch gas pipeline and with portions of one high wall already collapsed, reclamation at this site has eliminated 2,095 feet of dangerous high wall, established an enhanced wildlife area, increased shoreline, and provided new spawning grounds for fish.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Abandoned Mine Land Division, Kemmerer Coal Reclamation Project 17H, Phase I, Contract A - This extensive reclamation project successfully reclaimed multiple abandoned underground mines that had supplied coal to the railroads beginning in the late 1800s and in some cases and for different uses into the mid 20th Century.
- National Award Winner: Comet Mine and Millsite, Montana (Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Abandoned Mine Section) - A cooperative effort by the State of Montana, Bureau of Land Management, twenty private landowners, Montana Conservation Corps, the Western Resource Institute, and several contractors resulted in the restoration of four miles of stream channel on High Ore Creek, and the reclamation of the Comet Mine and Millsite as well as other mines in the watershed.
- National Award, Category II Winner: Shallmar Coal Refuse Site Garrett County, Maryland (Maryland Department of Environment, Bureau of Mines) - Using OSMRE Clean Streams and Watershed Cooperative funds as well as AML money, Maryland Bureau of Mines contractors sealed two mine portals, removed 140,000 cubic yards of unstable coal refuse, installed a water powered doser to reduce acidity and revegetated 17.5 acres with trees and grasses..
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Monongahela South No. 1 Highwall Mine, Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation) - An 800-foot highwall from mining operations in the 1940s had become unstable and presented a severe landslide risk to the local community, including houses, a church and a school which had to be closed. Innovation and expertise were required to stabilize the highwall and make the area safe for the public.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Trinkle Reclamation Project, Iowa (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship) - At this 100-acre site, a dangerous long-wall mine, toxic gob-piles and hazardous water bodies were replaced by beautiful grassland supporting a growing wildlife population. Acid mine drainage from the stripped land which clogged streams and impacted roadways, bridges and nearby farmland has been corrected.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Garrison Abandoned Mine Land Project, North Dakota (North Dakota Public Service Commission) - Tackling a series of collapsing – and often hidden and forgotten — underground coal mines, the Public Service Commission developed a detailed, persistent approach to locating, mapping and filling underground mines before they could create dangerous sinkholes.
- More information on these award winners can be found on page 35 of the 2006 Annual Report.
- National Award, Appalachian Regional Award, and People's Choice Award Winner: Spewing Camp Branch Refuse AML Project, Kentucky - From 1952 to 1973, the Island Creek Coal company deposited more than 7 million tons of refuse from its preparation facility into a hollow known as Spewing Camp Branch. The refuse pile was almost a half mile long, 1,000 feet across, and up to 165 feet deep. The site was abandoned in 1981, and there were overwhelming erosion problems. In addition there was frequent downstream flooding and streams were polluted with acid mine drainage. Reclamation began in October 2002. Cover material from adjacent areas and two nearby projects was spread to a depth of two feet. Benches were cut into the fill at 30-foot vertical intervals, and side drains were constructed. After almost two years and $3.5 million, the aesthetic blight and safety hazards have been eliminated.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: AML Site 380, Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area, Indiana - The Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area includes over 8,000 acres of mostly reclaimed surface mine land. Reclamation involved consolidating and burying the coal refuse. The drainage was redirected through constructed channels, and pit bottoms were covered. Passive treatment and wildlife wetlands were built, and all disturbed areas were revegatated. An abandoned mine land area has been restored. The land is once again productive, the water quality improved, and a useful public area has been created.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Mesa State Collect/Environmental Restoration Education Project, Colorado - This Colorado project was carried out in cooperation with Mesa State College. It provided educational outreach, and reclamation design and implementation, and was accomplished for a substantially reduced cost. Five students completed a real-world project--from site inventory through final closure of the abandoned mine openings. Four hazardous uranium mine openings were sealed, three of them with bat gates while maintaining the historical character of the sites. Not only have dangerous mine openings been closed; but, five college students are now experienced with real-world abandoned mine land reclamation.
- National Award and Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Neds Branch Impoundment, West Virginia - Following heavy winter rain, a 12-acre abandoned coal refuse dam located in southern West Virginia failed, releasing thousands of yards of slurry, coal refuse, and debris into the valley below.. Declared an emergency, the two-phase work plan began by moving coal waste, slurry, and debris out of the hollow and roadway to reestablish access to nearby homes. Phase 2 included stabilizing the slurry embankment, establishing drainage control, and regrading the site. When completed, more than one-half million cubic yards of refuse and rock had been excavated, 6,000 feet of drainage control channels and piping built, four deep mine portals sealed, and 43 acres revegetated.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Coles Creek Project, Indiana - Prior to reclamation, this Indiana abandoned mine site consisted of coal waste covered mine roads, acidic impoundments, acid drainage problems, and 95-acres of barren coal waste. During reclamation all coal waste throughout the site was consolidated and encapsulated into one large area to eliminate its acid producing characteristics. Surface water was redirected through a series of shallow passive wetland treatment cells before leaving the site. These impoundments were planted with native vegetation and now provide water treatment and a diverse wildlife habitat.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Cerrillos South Mine Safeguard Project, New Mexico - This abandoned mine reclamation project eliminated hazardous underground mine openings in the Cerrillos Hills Historic Park, a public open space located in an area containing over 1,300 years of mining history. The project minimized abandoned mine hazards to the visiting public, added stability to the interpretative trails system, and preserved the historic mining landscape. Work included closing shafts with hightensile steel wire mesh, steel bat cupolas, and polyurethane foam plugs. When completed the reclamation included eliminating the hazardous conditions at 67 open shafts, 17 pits, and one adit, all of which were dangerous to the people using the park.
- People's Choice Award Winner: Snake River Gravel Pit Project, Wyoming - Located between the Grand Teton National Park and the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, this abandoned gravel pit was reclaimed to be a selfsustaining wetland-riparian ecosystem. Field experiment results were used to determine the project design and five distinct planting zones were constructed. More than 600 thousand native seed grown plants and 35 thousand willow cuttings were planted on the reclaimed land. The success of this project shows that a damaged riparian habitat can be reclaimed to its original, pristine condition.
- National Award and Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Taylor Creek Impoundment, West Virginia - The West Virginia Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation Taylor Creek Impoundment project in Widen, West Virginia, won the national and regional awards for reclamation of a 90-acre abandoned coal preparation and waste disposal facility that ceased operation in the 1950’s. Before reclamation this abandoned site had an 18-acre impoundment filled with acidic mine water, and a massive amount of steepbanked mine refuse, some of which was burning. During construction 1.8 million cubic yards of refuse was excavated and reshaped, the fires extinguished, and the acid water treated. Today, in addition to the fantastic visual improvements realized by the reclamation all previous health and safety hazards have been eliminated.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Victory Mine, Site 82, Indiana - The Indian Division of Reclamation received the Mid-Continent Region award for reclamation of the Victory Mine Site. Once the site of barren and eroded abandoned mine refuse that created sedimentation and acid mine drainage problems of adjacent streams, it was transformed into productive land that has become an asset to the community. Located just outside the city of Terre Haute, this site has been transformed into an outstanding wildlife habitat much of which has become an area of intense human activity. The landowner donated the reclaimed property to the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center, a nonprofit local organization, which developed a community recreation facility complex on the property. Today, this reclaimed abandoned mine site is home to a championship cross country running course that is used by local high schools and colleges and became the site of the 2002 national championships. In addition, the site has a sports center with basketball courts, weight room, and other public activity rooms. At this successful reclaimed abandoned mine site the hazards were eliminated and the site has become an important location for community activities, sports competitions, and a wide variety of recreational uses.
- Western Regional Award and People's Choice Award Winner: Cove 3 Project, Navajo Reservation - The Navajo Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program, won the Western regional and People’s Choice Awards for its reclamation of the Cove 3 Project. This reclamation eliminated health and safety hazards associated with 1950’s uranium mining. This work was done on 61 different sites and included closing portals, grading and covering radioactive piles and embankments, eliminating highwalls, and planting vegetation. These difficult abandoned mine problems have been successfully reclaimed and no longer pose a safety hazard to visitors of this scenic Arizona mountain range.
- National Award and Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Sunshine Mine Reclamation Project, Indiana - The Indiana Division of Reclamation’s Sunshine Mine Reclamation Project in Bicknell, Indiana, won the national and regional awards for elimination of a 25- acre area of gob, slurry, mine drainage, and derelict buildings that travelers referred to as “the ugly old coal mine at the edge of town.” The project included regrading refuse, spreading 100 tons per acre of agricultural lime, covering the material with four feet of soil, and planting vegetation. In addition, almost 5,000 linear feet of erosion control features were installed. Most drainage from the reclaimed site has been directed into a small wetland that improves site aesthetics, eliminates offsite sedimentation, and enhances water quality downstream.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner:Kempton Coal Waste Stabilization and Doser Installation Project, Maryland - The Indiana Division of Reclamation’s Sunshine Mine Reclamation Project in Bicknell, Indiana, won the national and regional awards for elimination of a 25- acre area of gob, slurry, mine drainage, and derelict buildings that travelers referred to as “the ugly old coal mine at the edge of town.” The project included regrading refuse, spreading 100 tons per acre of agricultural lime, covering the material with four feet of soil, and planting vegetation. In addition, almost 5,000 linear feet of erosion control features were installed. Most drainage from the reclaimed site has been directed into a small wetland that improves site aesthetics, eliminates offsite sedimentation, and enhances water quality downstream.
- Western Regional Award and People's Choice Award Winner: Sugarite Canyon Coal Mine Reclamation Project, New Mexico - The New Mexico Abandoned Mine Land Bureau’s Sugarite Canyon Project in Raton, New Mexico, won the western regional award for its reclamation of the Sugarite Canyon. This reclamation stabilized sides of the steepwalled canyon, which were covered with large areas of eroding coal mine waste. The project used a unique design that included construction of straw bale terraces with seedlings planted behind the straw mulch, which provided immediate control of water erosion and long-term stabilization of the steep slopes. This difficult abandoned mine problem has been successfully reclaimed and no longer poses a safety hazard to visitors of the Sugarite Canyon State Park.
- Special Engineer of the Year Award Winner: John Kretzmann, Chief Design and Project Engineer with the New Mexico Abandoned Mine Land Bureau
- National Award and Appalachian Region Award: Vindex Reclamation Project, Maryland - The Maryland Department of Environment, Water Management Administration Mining Program’s Vindex Reclamation Project project was awarded for reclaiming a site along the North Fork of the Potomac River. In addition to serious acid mine drainage problems which threatened fish migrations in the upper Potomac River, the site contained unstable refuse piles, and dangerous highwalls near a county road. The project was Maryland’s single most complex, time consuming, and costly Abandoned Mine Land reclamation project to date. It required over 55,000 man hours of work, cost more than twice Maryland’s total annual Abandoned Mine Land grant allocation, and took three years to complete. With reclamation complete the hazards have been eliminated, water quality has been improved, and the river fishery has been reestablished.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: West Huntington Joint Reclamation Project, Arkansas - The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Division joined with the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to reclaim dangerous, unstable refuse piles and highwalls, and control acid mine drainage problems. Reclamation at the site eliminated many health and safety hazards. The public is no longer in danger and the reclaimed site is being integrated back into the natural Arkansas landscape.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Sunnyside Project, Utah - The Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program’s Sunnyside Project was awarded for reclaiming nearly 200 acres of surface disturbance at the site. Reclamation included eliminating nine hazardous mine shafts, and 48 hazardous portals. Additionally, a 1/4- mile stretch of creek was restored, and 600 trees and shrubs were planted. (Note: Using the OSMRE web site, the public selected one reclamation project they thought was best. This project received the most votes and became the winner of the 2001 People’s Choice Award.)
- National Award and Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Pleasant View Mine Project, Kentucky -
- Mid-Continent Regional Award and People's Choice Award Winner: Midwestern Reclamation Project, Indiana
- Western Regional Award Winner: Carrizo 1 Reclamation Project, Navajo Reservation, Arizona and New Mexico
- National Award Winner: Monument Valley 2 AML Reclamation Project, Navajo Reservation - The Navajo Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Department project reclaimed a highly toxic radioactive open-pit uranium mine site which endangered the local Navajos and their livestock, and posed a general threat to wildlife and water resources in the surrounding area. Today, after reclamation, the site is free of sources of water pollution, soil erosion, sedimentation, and radiation emission, and is once again open to the community for livestock grazing.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Blackwater River Limestone Drum Station, West Virginia - The West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection project eliminated one of the major sources of acid mine drainage in the state, and reestablished the Blackwater River as one of West Virginia’s premier trout fishing areas. The project also improved water quality in other downstream rivers, including the Cheat and the Ohio.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Oklahoma Partnership Approach to Reclamation of Abandoned Mine Land, Oklahoma - This project was awarded for developing the Oklahoma Partnership Approach to Reclamation of Abandoned Mine lands. The two agencies pooled personnel and resources to complete a joint project that reclaimed 26 acres of abandoned mine land on five separate sites in Rogers County, including one site where acid mine drainage was polluting the Claremore city water supply.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Socorro West Mine Safeguard Project, Socorro West, New Mexico - The New Mexico Abandoned Mine Land Bureau project was awarded for reclaiming 24 underground mine shafts, adits, and other dangerous openings at the abandoned Nancy and Black Canyon manganese mine sites. The reclamation included installing bat gates which help to preserve the habitat for one of the country’s largest populations of Townsend’s big-eared bats.
- National Award Winner: Long Fork Sedimentation Project, Virginia - This project was awarded for reclamation of a landslide and refuse pile that was causing sedimentation and 9,500 feet of clogged stream along the Long Fork’s Crabtree Creek tributary. Today, after reclamation, flooding in the narrow valley has been eliminated and it is once again a productive fish and wildlife habitat.
- Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Muddy Creek East Project, Pennsylvania - This project was awarded for reclamation of dangerous highwalls, hazardous water pits, and a large area of mine spoil. Before reclamation the abandoned mine attracted large numbers of visitors. With 10 deaths reported at the site, it was one of the most dangerous abandoned coal mine sites in the country.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: Poffenbarger Project, Iowa - This project was awarded for reclamation of a 96-acre site with dangerous highwalls, acid spoil material, and a creek bottom polluted with acidic sediment. The reclamation has turned the area into a valuable wetland habitat and productive grazing land.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Sunrise Mining District Project, Wyoming - This project was awarded for reclaiming an area of more than 200 acres of hazardous waste and spoil, including one of the world’s largest abandoned open-pit iron mines into an area of productive farmland and an historic, educational site depicting the area’s early mining activity.
- National Award and Appalachian Regional Award Winner: Upper Lehigh Project, Pennsylvania - This project was awarded for reclamation of an abandoned anthracite mining site containing dangerous underground mine openings, highwalls, water pits, and large spoil banks that posed a threat to citizens of the surrounding area.
- Mid-Continent Regional Award Winner: ALCOA Project, Texas - This project reclaimed more than 1,000 acres of mine spoil and dangerous impoundments into valuable land that today is a prime source of hay for local livestock.
- Western Regional Award Winner: Silver Reef Project, Utah - This project was awarded for reclaiming the historic mining district covering 800 acres with more than 500 mine openings. Reclamation included installation of grates which preserve the habitat of a large colony of Townsend’s bigeared bats and keep people safely out of the mines.
1996 - No Awards
- National Award: Aladdin Coal Tipple Interpretive Site, Wyoming
- Summit Reclamation Project, Utah
- City of Mines Project - Independence Mine and Mill, Colorado
- Gage Mine Safeguard Project, New Mexico
- Middle Fork Duck Creek Watershed Project, Ohio
- Rattlesnake Reclamation Project, Tennessee
- North Fork Watershed Project, Virginia
- Rock Springs Subsidence Abatement and Public Utility Repair, Wyoming
- Director's Award: Meadow Creek Project, Tennessee - Winning project for the Elimination of acid mine drainage
- Harrison County Road 51 Project, Ohio
- Shirley Basin Uranium District, Wyoming
- Adrian Southeast Project, Pennsylvania
- Eckhart Coal Waste Stabilization, Maryland
- Colorado Bats/Inactive Mines Project, Colorado
- Tintic Project, Utah
- Richmond Shafts Project, Virginia
- Rush Run Portals Project, West Virginia
- Crook County Bentonite Project, Wyoming
- Boonville Hospital RAMP Project, Indiana - This project was a cooperative effort of the city, the Soil Conservation Service, adjacent landowners, and the contractor. It eliminated dangerous health and safety abandoned mine hazards in a residential area near a hospital and an elementary school in Boonville, Indiana.
- Coppermine Abandoned Mine Project, Navajo Reservation - The Coppermine project, located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Coconino County, Arizona, eliminated open shafts, water pollution, soil erosion, and other abandoned mine land hazards resulting from historic copper mining. Reclamation was completed by the inhouse construction crew of the Tuba City, Arizona, Navajo Abandoned Mine Land Office.
- Gay Branch Gob Pile Project, Virginia - The Gay Branch project in Clinchco, Virginia, reclaimed what was once rated the highest extreme danger site in the state. The project's outstanding results eliminated a variety of problems, ranging from open mine portals and steep refuse piles to fires that caused noxious smoke and fumes.
- Lead and Zinc Mine Sites Reclamation Project, Illinois - This project eliminated 25 abandoned underground mine entries and shafts in and around historic Galena, Illinois, with minimal disturbance to the surrounding area. The contractor pumped polyurethane foam from lightweight trucks and used extensive hand labor to achieve excellent reclamation results.
- Ocean Refuse Removal Project, Maryland - Reclamation of the former Ocean Mine, in Midland, Maryland, resulted in outstanding restoration of land and water resources at a site mined primarily for steamship coal from the 1870s until the 1940s. The project included many unique challenges as it reclaimed the area, but finally, after more than a century, the newly landscaped site is an asset to the community.
- Pine Creek Mine Shafts Project, West Virginia - At the Pine Creek project, in Logan County, West Virginia, vertical air shafts abandoned about 30 years ago were adjacent to a public road. To eliminate the danger associated with the 250-foot-deep shafts, the project used foam concrete to fill the shafts and a concrete cap to seal them. Then the area was landscaped.
- Pyramid Coal Company Reclamation Project, Illinois - At the Pine Creek project, in Logan County, West Virginia, vertical air shafts abandoned about 30 years ago were adjacent to a public road. To eliminate the danger associated with the 250-foot-deep shafts, the project used foam concrete to fill the shafts and a concrete cap to seal them. Then the area was landscaped.
- Shiloh Reclamation Project, Arkansas - The Shiloh Reclamation Project, in Russellville, Arkansas, was a joint effort by the Corps of Engineers, the City of Russellville, the Russellville Rotary Club, and the AML Fund. The project eliminated abandoned mine hazards at site that was partially flooded by the Arkansas River and frequently used as a recreation site by local residents. Major regrading and landscaping of the area with more than 2,600 trees and shrubs resulted in a highquality, hazard-free recreation center for local residents.
- Veca Pit and Spoils Project, Wyoming - The Veca Pit was an abandoned uranium mine near Gas Hills, Wyoming. Spoil on the surface contained high levels of radioactive wastes and heavy metals. During reclamation, the contractor segregated contaminated material and buried it. Grading the site recreated the gently rolling landscape that existed before mining.
- White Oak IV Reclamation Project, Ohio - The White Oak project, in Gallia County, Ohio, included reclamation of a 70-acre site containing highly acidic and erodible spoil. During reclamation more than five million gallons of acid mine drainage was treated, in addition to treating, draining, and backfilling mine pits at the site. With those problems eliminated, local streams are returning to their pre-mining condition.