The Oskaloosa Herald
OSKALOOSA — The Mahaska County Soil and Water Conservation Service hired Erika Lyon as an intern who will assist the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Mines and Minerals Bureau with the Abandoned Mine Lands program.
The AML program inventories Iowa’s remaining coal mines and provides opportunities for mine reclamation, depending on the condition of the site. The intern will contact landowners throughout the summer who have abandoned mines on their property.
Each mine site visited by Erika will have the water quality tested as well as any hazards, such as highwalls, clogged streams and subsidence, documented. Landowners who suspect an abandoned mine site on their property are encouraged to have the site inventoried. Any landowner who has previously participated in the AML program is welcome to have their property reassessed. The Mines and Minerals Bureau keeps record of mine sites inventoried and uses the list to determine which mines are a priority for reclamation.
So what does it mean to have a mine reclaimed? Mining reclamation is when mines are made safe to the public and environment through the removal of various hazards. Reclamation is quite expensive, but it is 100 percent cost free to the landowner. Funding for each reclamation project comes from federal, state, local and nonprofit sources. Once a mine site has been reclaimed, it can be put to a variety of uses including: habitat for wildlife, hay, and grazing. Reclamation also improves soil, air and water quality of the area. Liability for injuries occurring on properties with reclaimed mines is minimized. A mine site will undergo reclamation based on the priority determined by the hazards documented and the amount of funds available.
Working with landowners is an important part of the AML program. Any questions or concerns a landowner has about a mine will be addressed. Only mine sites in which the landowner has given permission for assessment will be inventoried.
If you have an abandoned mine on your property and are interested in hearing more about the Abandoned Mine Lands program or would like to have a site inventoried, please contact Erika Lyon at (641) 673-3476 ext. 117 or visit the USDA Service Center in Oskaloosa.