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Anthracite mine reclamation project boosts local economies

Shamokin, Pa. — On May 13, U.S. Senate Bob Casey and John Stefanko, DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations toured the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Shamokin, Northumberland County to highlight how abandoned mine reclamation projects can benefit local economies and communities.

The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act will provide an additional $244 million for abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation in 2022 alone.

“Through the efforts of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and funding through the federal AML Reclamation Program, Pennsylvania has been able to reclaim over 91,000 acres of mine land, eliminate more than 1,800 open mine shafts and restore 300 miles of impaired streams. This has made the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area possible, providing new recreation opportunities for Coal Township residents and visitors.

Thanks to the infrastructure law, Pennsylvania will also receive more than $244 million to clean up dangerous sites, improve water quality damaged by acid mine drainage, create new jobs, and revitalize economies. I will continue fighting to bring infrastructure funding to Pennsylvania to ensure we can address the hazards and environmental pollution posed by legacy mining sites while creating good-paying jobs in rural and energy communities in Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey.

“Abandoned mine lands are a scar on Pennsylvania’s landscape, but by reclaiming them and restoring the land, there can be any number of important and productive uses,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations John Stefanko. “We’ve seen abandoned mine lands become new office parks, farmlands, solar fields, and, like the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, new attractions to drive tourism.”

“Projects like this at the AOAA wouldn’t be possible without investments from the federal government, and I want to thank the Biden administration for their leadership in delivering additional resources to Pennsylvania so that we can keep restoring our landscapes and improving our communities,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area sits on more than 6,500 acres of former mineland, and a construction contract was funded from the 2018 federal Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization program for the 88-acre reclamation project to reclaim dangerous highwalls, a waterbody, and two vertical openings.

The project also included creation and expansion of nearly three miles of Jeep and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails and planting more than 13,000 trees on the property.

Abandoned mine land reclamation projects support vitally needed jobs for coal communities by investing in projects that close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining.

AML reclamation projects also enable economic revitalization by reclaiming hazardous land for recreational facilities and other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment.

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