State grant aims to clean up Wildcat Run mine site

From staff reports

A dangerous abandoned strip mine highwall along Wildcat Run in Porter Townships is targeted for a restoration project under a revitalization plan announced Jan. 24.

The work will especially benefit the Redbank Valley Trails Association.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s office announced funding for 13 environmental restoration projects focused on economic development or community revitalization at abandoned mine land locations across Pennsylvania.

The funding for the 13 projects totals $25 million.

According to the press release regarding the projects, the Clarion County project includes the reclamation of a 2,500 linear feet dangerous highwall by backfilling with the adjacent 19-acre spoil area to eliminate the health and safety hazards.

A seven-acre refuse pile will also be reclaimed.

A DEP-approved alkaline material may be added to the refuse during backfill to neutralize the soil acidity and the reclaimed area will be revegetated.

The existing AML conditions are adjacent to property owned by the Redbank Valley Trails Association where the association possesses a 100-foot right-of-way for another section of the abandoned rail spur currently being improved and maintained by volunteers as an all-season trail.

Portions of the reclaimed AML areas will be repurposed as a multi-use green space to be utilized by visitors of the trail and an existing parking lot is proposed to be resurfaced as part of the AML project to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility guidelines.

The primary project partners are Redbank Valley Trails Association and the property owner of the AML site.

“These newly approved projects will bring economic opportunity and activity to Pennsylvania, and eliminate dangerous environmental scars left over from Pennsylvania’s mining history,” Wolf said in the prepared news release.

“Removing the dangerous hazards from these sites also removes barriers to productive use,” added Wolf. “These sites will become hiking trails, farm fields, and solar farms a new future for sites still marred from past use.”

The 2020 Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program (formerly known as the AML Pilot Program) will provide an additional $25 million of U.S. Treasury funds for Pennsylvania’s AML program.

First authorized by Congress, the funds are to be used “to accelerate the remediation of AML sites with economic and community development end uses.”

This is the fifth year Pennsylvania has received funding from the AMLER Program.