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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Committee set up to help those in need

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring is in the air. Early spring peepers were calling before the last freeze made them seek deeper water.

Last week, a robin was searching for worms in my yard. Soon, you will be in your fields.

Do you have abandoned mine property left from old coal mining operations affecting your property and/or crops?

Old coal mine operations left a number of problems for today's landowners.

Acid seeps, old haul roads that leach water in rain events, high walls that continue to slough into lakes, gob piles that settle and increase in size each year, are just a few of these problems.

Sycamore Trails RC&D in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Department of Reclamation (IDoR), and the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) are now able to help landowners in 10 counties with these AML problems.

Greene County has been added to the nine coal bearing counties of Clay, Fountain, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo in western Indiana, which are now eligible for financial assistance.

Water contaminated by abandoned coal mine operations is affecting us and will affect the future if something is not done to correct it.

The eroded coal fines that filter into road ditches, acidic water that leach into waterways and high walls that slough into lakes are contaminating out water supply.

Until the late 1970s, coal mine reclamation was not well regulated. After the coal was removed, trees were planted on some of the spill piles. However, much of the land was left to erode into strip pits and waterways.

Some of these areas healed pretty well. However, others did not. Subsidences caused by abandoned underground mines create hazards and reduce crop production.

Light coal fines and residue reach lakes and streams during rain events.

Heavy metals contained in these fines leach out, causing an acidic condition in which desirable species cannot exist. There are a number of these sites that can be improved.

Acidic ground retards plant growth and allows erosion to continue. This in turn makes sustaining wildlife a problem. Wildlife species like rabbits and quail have little cover and no food in these areas.

Therefore, predators kill off the young that normally would be able to survive.

Through reclamation of these sites, the wildlife population will once again be able to grow and thrive.

Hay crops could be growing in fields that contain barren gob piles. Sagging areas in a crop field could be raising grain instead of cockleburs. With reclamation, a number of these sites can be improved and become profitable.

Sycamore Trails RC&D, in partnership with the Department and Reclamation and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management can offer assistance if your land, degraded by old coal mines, qualifies for this program.

The program enables landowners in Clay, Fountain, Greene, Montgomery, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties to receive financial assistance to help reclaim abandoned mine land that causes water contamination, reduces crop production or presents environmental or safety hazards to the public or livestock.

We are all responsible for protecting our water supply. Clean water means life.

Contaminated water supplies affect all living things.

We can work together to help improve cleaner water for now and future generations.

During 2007, the AML Committee was able to help several landowners in the counties served with reclamation of approximately 80 acres of land that would not be productive if not for the program.

As project coordinator for the Sycamore Trails Abandoned Mine Land Steering Committee, I would be happy to see if assistance could be provided to improve your property and protect the water supply for the future.

Are you landowners in these counties and have old mine land that presents a problem such as barren areas, exposed coal fines, acid water seeps, or high walls that are sloughing into a lake?

If you would like to see what the program can offer you, contact me.

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