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State Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference Attracts Over 168 People

The 11th Annual PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation and Coal History Conference in Johnstown attracted over 168 people and 31 vendors over the four day event at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

So far this year over 768 people attended conferences on watershed issues. (Pa Environment Digest 5/18/09)

The conference began with a tour of abandoned mine discharges in the Stonycreek Watershed on Monday afternoon. Sites visited on the tour ranged from recreational and economic benefits of upstream mine water treatment at Whitewater & Greenhouse Parks, windmills on reclaimed abandoned mine sites, to mine discharges and treatment systems throughout the Stonycreek Watershed.

A very moving and solemn visit was also included on the tour to the Flight 93 temporary Memorial Site. The final stop on the tour was at the Windber Coal Heritage Center, where conference attendees learned about the coal mining heritage of Windber and the recent mining disaster at Quecreek.

The presentations began early Tuesday, July 14. Bob Bastian, State Representative (retired) for Bradford and Somerset Counties, started the day off with some very good advice on how to reach your local representatives and his background growing up around AMD.

The 37 speakers gave presentations based on two tracks: Abandoned Mine Reclamation or Coal Mining Heritage. The Abandoned Mine Reclamation presentations varied from topics such as Economic Impact of Abandoned Mine Drainage Cleanup, Geothermal projects, Manganese Oxide Recovery, Manure and Minelands, and panel discussions on funding, technical assistance, and grant writing assistance.

The Coal Mining Heritage track had presentations that focused on the History of the Paint Creek Watershed, Taylor Colliery Historic Brownfields Redevelopment, Anthracite Coal Heritage, OSM/VISTAs in PA, and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

Mayfly Award

Tuesday evening was the formal dinner where the Annual Mayfly Award was presented to this year’s recipients: Bob Hedin, Hedin Environmental, and Dr. Art Rose, Emeritus Penn State professor.

The Mayfly Award is presented to those who exhibit long term efforts in addressing mine drainage remediation projects in PA and has contributed greatly towards cleaning up PA’s environment from abandoned mine drainage impacts.

Another announcement made at the dinner was that Joe Pizarchik from the Bureau of Mining and Reclamation will be appointed the next Director of the Office of Surface Mining by the Obama Administration.

DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation also highlighted the AMD Set Aside Program Implementation Guidelines and how watershed groups now must obtain a Hydrologic Unit Plan designation for their watersheds before becoming eligible to receive Set Aside funds.

Many more topics of a wide variety were presented and the attention spent by the audience to the details of each of them was great.

Other activities that took place at the conference were Coal Mining Heritage videos after dinner on Tuesday, a Rockband2 competition led by the EPCAMR Staff, and an optional tour Thursday by PA Trout Unlimited, the Clearfield County Conservation District, the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition, and Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority took attendees to AMD Remediation sites in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River (Cambria County).

This year's videos were “Hard Coal: Last of the Bootleg Miners” and Centralia “The Town that Was.” The Rockband2 Competition also took place Tuesday evening after dinner where teams competed for prizes.

Robert Hughes-Conference Coordinator-EPCAMR, and Andy McAllister-WPCAMR Watershed Outreach Coordinator were able to convince one of our international attendees to speak; an impromptu international speaker, Gerard Shaw, Corporate Legacy Manager from Canada’s Cape Breton Development Corporation.

Robert stated enthusiastically, “Gerard was able to fill in for our opening speaker on Wednesday and talked about Canada’s abandoned mines, submarine mining and reclamation efforts off of the coast of Nova Scotia, and Canada’s interest in geothermal energy potential from mine pools.
His presentation was well received and very interesting depicting pictures of the coal mining operations that proceed under the ocean to the length of 8 miles out to sea. Andy and Robert were able to talk to him on the tour and at the Conference to see if he’d like to have an opportunity to give a Canadian perspective on the work that we are doing here in PA and what they are doing up North. It was a good catch”

On Wednesday evening, the Johnstown Area Heritage Association welcomed attendees to a Mixer at the JAHA Discovery Center. The 5 story building was well preserved and many options for the attendees to visit were available during the 3 hour event. A rooftop natural biodiversity native plants garden was exhibited.

The Children’s Museum was toured and attendees even were able to go down a large slide normally left for the amusement of children. Historical and cultural displays were abound. The mixer took place on the 5th Floor’s Ethnic Club where attendees gathered and networked around a very rustic mahogany bar.

On behalf of the 2009 AMR Conference Planning Committee, EPCAMR would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s conference, all of our sponsors, particularly, Department of Environmental Protection, Foundation for PA Watersheds, U.S. Department of Interior-Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement,PA Environmental Digest, Gander Mountain-Johnstown Store for their Gander bucks, Gannett Fleming, Mackin Engineering, Trout Unlimited, and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, our exhibitors, and vendors-Land & Mapping Services and Lime Doser Consulting. Without any of these people, the conference would not have been possible.

Pictures from the AMD Tours and Conference Happenings have been posted on EPCAMR’s Facebook site and all conference presentations will be posted on the Conference website shortly.

Hope to see everyone at next year’s conference, Bridging Reclamation, Science, & the Community at the Green Tree Hotel in Pittsburgh from June 5th – 11th, 2010.

2010 Conference

The 12th Annual PA AMR Conference will be coordinated in partnership by the PA AMR Conference Planning Committee and the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mining & Reclamation, Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement.

Check out the link to the Pittsburgh Mining Conference for further details. The “Science, Community, and Reclamation” Session will be particularly geared towards community watershed organizations working on AMD issues.


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