Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 23, 2013

Pathfinders Receives Grants for Mine Reclamation in Marion County


Pathfinders RC&D

Marion County —

Pathfinders Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. received two $100,000 Watershed Cooperative Agreement grants from the Office of Surface Mining.  The grants will be used to help fund reclamation of the “Sailor” and “Roudybush East” Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites in Marion County.  Other partners in the project include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Division of Soil Conservation, the Red Rock Environmental Education Fund and the Marion Soil and Water Conservation District.

Surface coal mines that ceased operations before 1977 were not required to be “reclaimed” by the operator once the mining stopped.  This means an area strip-mined for coal was often left with large piles of the overburden that was stripped away so coal could be extracted.  

Unreclaimed mine lands present several environmental and aesthetic problems including exposed remnant coal leading to acid mine drainage, acid mine drainage lowering the pH in receiving waterbodies which negatively affects aquatic life and reduces biodiversity, acidic soils do not support the growth of vegetation so landscapes look barren and the soil continues to runoff without vegetation to hold it in place and  dangerous “highwalls” and large, steep spoil piles from mining activity that can be hazardous to people and animals traversing the site. 

Iowa has over 230 unreclaimed mine sites affecting 12-13,000 acres. The Sailors project will reclaim 18 acres and improve water flowing to English Creek.  The Roudybush East project will reclaim 10.5 acres and improve water flowing to Cedar Creek.

To date, Pathfinders RC&D has partnered on 23 AML projects in five counties, receiving over $2 million in grant dollars from the Office of Surface Mining.  “This is some of the most rewarding our nonprofit has been involved in,” states Pathfinders Executive Director Detra Dettmann.  “These areas often result in several negative impacts to the environment, so each site we can help clean up really does make a difference.”

Pathfinders RC&D is a nonprofit organization that assists local communities with initiatives related to natural resource conservation, economic development, and recreation.  Pathfinders has been serving southeast Iowa since 1978. 

To learn more, contact Pathfinders by calling 641-472-6177 or visit www.PathfindersRCD.org.