The coal industry works hard to mine coal and provide a source of energy to our homes and communities. But another very important part of their job is make sure that when they’re done mining, the land is as good as it used to be—or better.
Protecting and restoring the environment for the animals, plants, and people who live there is a process called land restoration (also known as reclamation). It takes a lot of planning and research, even before any actual mining starts. There are teams of scientists, engineers, and other experts (like Wendy Hutchinson) who work hard to make sure nature is in good hands every step of the way.
When restoration is done, the land that used to be a mine might be turned into new farmland, wildlife refuges, or even recreation areas for you and me.
Award-Winning Restoration Efforts
Because restoring the environment is so important, awards are given every year to the mines and mining companies who go the extra mile in restoring the land and helping the communities around them.
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is a group that gives out the Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Award. Here are some of the top awards given last year:
- Good Neighbor Award:
Mingo Logan Coal Company – Sharples, West Virginia
This award is for working well with the nearby community while mining and restoring the land. Mingo Logan Coal Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arch Coal that owns and operates the Mountain Laurel mining complex, worked hard in planting trees and plants that will grow and survive on the land. They even brought in local students to help with planting and learn about the environment.
- National Award – Western Region:
Cloud Peak Energy – Cordero Rojo Mine, Wyoming
It’s not just land that needs to be restored—water is important, too. Cloud Peak Energy restored a stream with much success, allowing fish to return and providing water to vegetation on the stream banks.
- National Award – Mid-Continent Region:
Vigo Coal Company – Red Brush Mine, Indiana
As part of their mining process, the Vigo Coal Company moved and replaced the soil in a way that helped new plants and trees grow. Two years later, the trees are thriving.
- National Award – Appalachian Region:
Paramont Coal Company – Hawk’s Nest Mine, Virginia
The Paramont Coal Company earned this award by adding even more to the land they mined. They built a network of roads for workers and other people to travel the land. Now the area can develop even more, and tourists can come to see the elk herds they brought to the area.