SNOW SHOE — On Thursday, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Game Commission hosted a tour of the recently completed Contrary Run abandoned mine land reclamation project on State Game Lands 100.
State Game Lands 100 is located in Centre and Clearfield counties. Access is from state Route 144 north from Snow Shoe. The reserve contains 19,372 acres. Contrary Run, a tributary of Beech Creek, was contaminated by highly acidic water from abandoned mine drainage, is located on a portion of the project.
At the Contrary Run project, 40 acres of abandoned mine land were reclaimed using biosolids application and a passive limestone filter water treatment system, installed in 2018, using a $1 million DEP Growing Greener grant and a match from the game commission of $177,761.
The project dramatically improved water quality on 2,400 feet of stream, created habitat for elk and other wildlife, and eliminated 3,375 feet of dangerous high wall improving health and safety for members of the public who utilize the property for recreational purposes.
“The completed Contrary Run project shows the outstanding results possible when two state agencies work together to achieve shared goals,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Restore Pennsylvania would accelerate ongoing efforts to recover the 200,000 acres of abandoned mine land remaining across 43 Pennsylvania counties and more than 19,000 miles of streams and rivers that fail to meet state and federal water quality standards.”
DEP Environmental Community Relations Specialist Megan Lehman said the project restored property left scarred by previous mining projects by returning the grasslands and songbird habitats.
“Water quality was also greatly improved benefiting the aquatic habitat and improving on earlier work done by a local watershed group, ” she explained.
Lehman said the project at State Game Lands 100 has been done in stages with the work at Contrary Run as the final piece of the restoration.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania can accelerate investment in the recovery of land and water resources impacted by the legacy of abandoned mines. Restore Pennsylvania is a state-wide plan to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs including land reclamation, blighted properties, broadband and infrastructure.
Lehman said DEP’s Growing Greener, Brownfield restoration and Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation all have lengthy waiting projects lists requiring work to be prioritized and communities left waiting for available funds.
“Communities want help but there is never enough money. Restore Pennsylvania would infuse these programs with funding that would allow the work to get done much faster and would allow projects that are needed but may not fit current funding criteria to be completed,” Lehman said.
Funded through a severance tax on natural gas drillers, Restore Pennsylvania would help make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century.
Representatives from DEP, PGC, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which sponsored the project, discussed the restoration work and unveiled an educational sign installed at the site.
After the program, RMEF volunteers went on a walking tour of the Contrary Run project, followed by a driving tour of previously-completed abandoned mine land reclamation projects on State Game Lands 100.