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Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards

Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards logo


The Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards are presented to coal mining companies that achieve the most exemplary coal mine reclamation in the nation. Past winners have demonstrated a commitment to sound mining practices and effective reclamation plans that enhanced beneficial post-mining use of the land. OSMRE has honored high quality coal mine land reclamation since 1986.

Surface coal mining and reclamation operations conducted under a Title V permit (1978 - present) may be nominated for an award.

In addition, non-permitted mining and reclamation completed using government financial reclamation contracts under the Enhanced Abandoned Mine Land regulations is eligible for nomination. Abandoned mine land reclamation projects carried out exclusive of active mining are not included in this program. If integrated with Title V permitted operations, AML projects are eligible for a national award.

Opportunistic observations of aquatic species are another indicator of the successful reconstruction of the Belle Fourche River on mined and reclaimed lands.Opportunistic observations of aquatic species are another indicator of the successful reconstruction on mined and reclaimed lands.

National Awards

National awards recognize achievement in a specific aspect of reclamation or for overall performance in meeting goals of SMCRA. The nominated activity must have been performed within the past five years.

Good Neighbor Awards

Good Neighbor awards are given to mine operators for successfully working with the surrounding landowners and the community while completing mining and reclamation. The nominated activity must have been performed within the past three years.

Award winners are recognized for developing innovative reclamation techniques or who have completed reclamation that resulted in outstanding on-the-ground performance. The awards program is designed to help state and federal regulators transfer outstanding reclamation methods and techniques from award-winning operations to other coal mine operators who work under SMCRA.

Coal companies, regulatory authorities, state or federal mine inspectors, interest groups or landowners may submit nominations. Company officials and employees may nominate their own operations.

View previous Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards winners.

Submit electronic nominations to the appropriate regulatory authorities or the OSMRE field office in non-primacy states by 11:59 p.m. ET, on June 17.

The regulatory authority (RA) points of contact for each coal-producing state or Tribe screen nominations. The RA forwards the best entries (a maximum of four National Awards and two Good Neighbor Awards from each state) to the OSMRE field offices. Field offices evaluate and forward the nominations to the OSMRE headquarters in Washington, DC, for judging.

Submit questions about the awards to awards@osmre.gov or call (202) 208-2565.

A. Cover sheet containing the Application Form

  • Company name
  • Name and location of the nominated mining operation
  • Permit number(s) of site being nominated
  • Award category (the same nomination may be submitted for both the Good Neighbor and National Award categories)
  • Name, address, phone number, and e-mail address of a company contact person (and of the person submitting the nomination, if different)
  • Names and titles of all individuals directly responsible for on-the-ground reclamation at the nominated site

B. Narrative 

The narrative, not to exceed six single-spaced pages, should describe the mining operation and the specific activity nominated for an award using the outline below.

  • Brief summary of the mining and reclamation project.
  • Description of the nominated activity or reclamation practice, including specific problems, solutions, and unusual circumstances.
  • On-site effectiveness of the work. This should be documented and quantified with data.
  • Transferability or value of the accomplishment(s) to other mining and reclamation operations.
  • Long-term benefits to the landowner and local or regional community.

C. Graphic and Photos 

Photos and graphics should show both the specific activity and the surrounding conditions and provide a clear understanding of the accomplishments. Provide before-and-after sequences. Preference is for historic photos from the origins of the mine and/or the reclamation work to show progress. Graphics and photos should be between three to five megapixels.

Below are sample photos included from previous nominations. This content is used to create award videos; therefore, good quality graphics are extremely important. 

Using a Surber sampler to collect macro invertebrate samplesUsing a Surber sampler to collect macro invertebrate samples
The creation of a central water source attracted ducks, geese, and other wildlife to an area that would normally not see animals.The creation of a central water source attracted ducks, geese, and other wildlife to an area that would normally not see animals.
8 months after a stream was reclaimed, vegetation like hardwood seedlings and clover begin to grow and thrive.Eight months after a stream was reclaimed, vegetation like hardwood seedlings and clover begin to grow and thrive.

D. Electronic Submission Format

Each nomination package must include a project description in a portable document format (PDF) and separate JPGs for all photos. While nominations may include photos in the project description PDF file, a separate JPG for each photo is required to include a cover photo in JPG format. Each photo should be between three and five megapixels. 

E. Video Requirements

Please send raw, unedited video for your submission. 

Video should include:

  • Before/after, beauty and innovations shots
  • On camera video of the work being performed
  • On-camera interviews of people affected
  • On-camera interviews with people who did the work
  • On-camera interviews with people who benefited from the work
  • Products or services that resulted from the restoration/reclamation

Video format:

  • HD video, 1080p (or higher)
  • Ambient sound only
  • No narration
  • No music
  • No graphics
  • No visible time codes
  • No date stamps

Submit questions about your video submission to awards@osmre.gov.

An OSMRE field office representative will conduct a site visit to ensure that:

  • On-the-ground performance conforms with the permit and is exemplary within that state or geographic area.
  • Information in the nomination accurately reflects current site conditions.
  • Other mining activities at the site do not detract from the award-winning activity.

OSMRE will also examine each nominee’s Surface Mining Law compliance record to ensure that there are no outstanding violations and to determine that there is no past record of not abating violations.

A panel of OSMRE judges will evaluate the nominations and select the winners.

National Award

  • Difficulty of project & onsite effectiveness 
  • Creativity & ingenuity
  • Transferability of the technique or practices used  
  • Exceeds the spirit and intent of SMCRA 

Good Neighbor Award

  • Difficulty of project & onsite effectiveness 
  • Increased public awareness of SMCRA 
  • Long-term benefits to the community 
  • Exceeds the spirit and intent of SMCRA 

Federal agencies may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. OSMRE is collecting this information to give public recognition to the nation’s most outstanding achievement in environmentally sound surface mining and land reclamation, and to encourage the exchange and transfer of successful reclamation technology.

The obligation to respond is voluntary.

Public reporting burden for this collection is estimated to average 88 hours per response, including time for reviewing instructions, gathering and maintaining data, and completing and reviewing the submission.

Direct comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection to the Information Collection Clearance Officer, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Mailstop 4526, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20240.