ABANDONED MINE LAND
RECLAMATION IN TENNESSEE

[Home] [Master Plan] [Map] [Photo Gallery]
[Bank Stabilization Projects]
[Deadwood Removal Days] [Discovery Day 2000] [Scrape, Paint & Clean Day 2000
[Historic Fraterville Mine Disaster Field Trip 2001] [Fraterville Mine Disaster 100th Anniversary]
[Coal Creek War and Mining Disasters] [Mine Reclamation Lessons]
[CMD] [Economic Benefits] [Motor Discovery Trail] [Historic Cemeteries]
[Partners] [Schools in Watershed] [Mark the Trail Day]
[Awards] [Coal Creek Health Days]
[Briceville School History Field Trips] [Ghost Stories]
[Trout Stuff] [Join Us] [Eastern Coal Region Roundtable]
[Articles in the News] [Dream Contest]

Copyright© Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Inc. 2000 through 2016
CELEBRATING OUR 16th YEAR!!


 

 

Funding for abandoned mine land reclamation (AMLR) comes from fees paid by active coal mining companies.  Congress decides how much of the $300M in fees, paid by active coal mining companies each year, will actually be used to perform AMLR work.  With this funding, the Office of Surface Mining allocates AMLR funds to states based on the tonnage of coal mined today, provided that the respective state regulates active mining in that state.
Prior to the late 1980’s, Tennessee qualified for AMLR funding and several large AMLR projects were completed.  One such project was the construction of a tied-back wall to stabilize a landslide that impacted a county road and railroad in Scott County, Tennessee.  After the slide was stabilized, the state later appropriated tax dollars to construct a bridge across New River at this location to replace a foot bridge.  The state could not have built the bridge except for the fact that AMLR funding was first used to stabilize the landslide.  Folks that live on the opposite side of New River from the county road can now drive to their homes rather than having to park along the county road and walk to their homes.  The return on the AMLR funding investment multiplied.     

Click on image to enlarge:


Completed tied-back wall to
stabilize landslide (17 years
after completion with new bridge
across New River replacing
previous foot bridge)

 

In the late 1980’s, Tennessee decided to give up its regulatory program and allow OSM to regulate coal mining in Tennessee at the federal level.  As a result, Tennessee no longer qualifies for AMLR funding.   Other coal-producing states regulate mining at the state level and they are rewarded with AMLR funding from OSM.  Other states have recognized that many of their abandoned mine land problems can be solved by re-mining and reclaiming previously mined areas in accordance with modern standards outlined in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).  Not only is water quality improved on the re-mined area, but fees paid into the reclamation fund for the coal that is mined can be used by that state to reclaim abandoned mine land that is not suitable for re-mining.

Congressman Zach Wamp, Barry Thacker PE, Rep. William Baird, County Executive Rex Lynch, and Project Impact Coordinator Mark (Hollywood) Whaley during field
trip to an abandoned deep mine discharge site. 

The funding that Tennessee now receives from OSM is a hand-out. OSM is not obligated to give Tennessee any AMLR funds. Our meager state funding is appropriately used to address abandoned mine land (AML) problems that directly impact public safety. As a result, if we want abandoned mine land reclamation work done to improve water quality and reduce flooding, then we are going to have to do it through non-profit organizations like the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.

 

Restoration of the Black Creek watershed in Wise County, Virginia, shows the difference between AMLR work in Tennessee and Virginia. Black Creek is impacted by surface and underground mines abandoned prior to 1977. Coal mine drainage from abandoned deep mines flows into Black Creek and then into the Powell River, which is a put-and-take trout stream. An existing wetland, formed by a beaver dam in Black Creek, provides treatment for the coal mine drainage most of the time. However, during floods, the beaver dam overtops and iron precipitate is washed into the Powell River (sound familiar?). The latest Awashout@ of the beaver dam occurred in June 2000. 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Creek wetland cell No. 1 is created by a beaver dam that "washes out" during heavy rains.

 

Wetland vegetation in Cell No. 1

 

 

 

 

 

In Black Creek, the Virginia Division of Mined Land Reclamation (DMLR) worked out a deal with a local coal company. Abandoned mine lands in Black Creek will be re-mined over the next 10 years. Incentives were given by DMLR to close the re-mining deal. Water quality will be improved as a result of the re-mining. 
In addition to re-mining, flood control structures were recently built downstream of the beaver dam (i.e. Outlet Control Structure No. 1) and at an upstream road crossing (i.e. Outlet Control Structure No. 2). The outlet control structures allow the existing wetland areas to flood temporarily during storm events and reduce the potential for iron precipitate to be scoured. They also address the problems with the beaver dam being "washed out" during flood events.  Pipes installed through the outlet control structures  slowly decant the stored water. Between flood events, water levels in the wetland areas will be controlled by the beavers. 

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Plan view of Black Creek OutletAMLlesson1-3.JPG (144507 bytes) Control Structure No. 1 built downstream of the existing beaver dam.

 

 

 

 


Coal haul road crossing of
Black Creek at upstream end of Wetland Cell No. 1.  

 

 

The Black Creek Wetland project was fully-funded by OSM and EPA through the Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative (ACSI). Total cost for mapping, design, permitting, land acquisition, and construction in Black Creek was about $600,000. DMLR managed the project. As a state initiative, ACSI funding was not limited to $100,000 per year for construction purposes only, as it is for watershed groups like CCWF.

 

 

Plan view of Black Creek Outlet Control StruAMLlesson1-5.JPG (169589 bytes)cture No. 2 to be built at the existing road crossing (Note:  Construction requires raising the grade of an existing state highway.)

Completed Wetland Photos:

Click on image to enlarge

AML1.JPG (26955 bytes)Powell River (trout stream) to be protected by the Black Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

Aml1-8.JPG (36131 bytes)Completed Outlet Control Structure No. 1 built downstream of existing beaver dam.  Wetland will be temporarily flooded during storm events to reduce the potential for scouring of iron precipitate from wetland.

Aml3.JPG (29547 bytes)Wetland Cell No. 2 upstream of Outlet Control Structure No. 2 with raised county road at right of photo.

Aml1-9.JPG (34285 bytes)Armorform-lined spillway of Outlet Control Structure No. 2 discharging into wetland cell No. 1.

Aml5.JPG (27491 bytes)Submerged outlet of decant pipe to reduce potential for beavers to crawl up pipe and dam up inlet.

Aml6.JPG (41591 bytes)Porous rockfill base and fence at decant pipe inlet.  If beavers try to dam up around fence, water can flow through rockfill under fence to keep wetland at current level.

Aml1-10.JPG (30615 bytes)Armorform-lined plunge pool downstream of Outlet Control Structure
No. 1.

While other states qualify for higher levels of AMLR funding and encourage re-mining to reduce their abandoned mine land problems, Tennessee does not. If this trend continues, Tennessee will someday be No. 1 in several new categories.....the state with the most unreclaimed abandoned mine lands and the state with the most severe water quality problems from unreclaimed abandoned mine lands. It=s a good thing that Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State because volunteers are all we have to stop this trend.

Mining Reclamation Lessons

[Home] [Master Plan] [Map] [Photo Gallery]
[Bank Stabilization Projects]
[Deadwood Removal Days] [Discovery Day 2000] [Scrape, Paint & Clean Day 2000
[Historic Fraterville Mine Disaster Field Trip 2001] [Fraterville Mine Disaster 100th Anniversary]
[Coal Creek War and Mining Disasters] [Mine Reclamation Lessons]
[CMD] [Economic Benefits] [Motor Discovery Trail] [Historic Cemeteries]
[Partners] [Schools in Watershed] [Mark the Trail Day]
[Awards] [Coal Creek Health Days]
[Briceville School History Field Trips] [Ghost Stories]
[Trout Stuff] [Join Us] [Eastern Coal Region Roundtable]
[Articles in the News] [Dream Contest]

Copyright© Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Inc. 2000 through 2016
CELEBRATING OUR 16th YEAR!!