A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Salazar Announces $369 Million in Abandoned Mine Land Grants Available to States, Tribes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is making $369 million available to states and tribes to restore abandoned coal mines, an increase of over $70 million from last year.
The 28 eligible coal-producing states and tribes receive these grants by formula, based on both their past and present coal production. The 21 non-certified states, those that have active reclamation programs, will use these grants to fund projects that fill mine shafts and address other safety hazards and environmental problems resulting from lands mined and abandoned or left inadequately restored before the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
“These grants have consistently provided well-paying jobs in America's economically depressed coal mining areas,” Salazar said. “It is estimated that OSM's Abandoned Mine Lands program created thousands of new jobs last year alone, and this year's increased funding will put more Americans to work and help them find their way out of this recession. Restoring lands and waters affected by past mining practices keeps jobs in areas hard hit by the economic downturn.”
“Over the past 30 years, OSM, working with states, tribes, and our Good Samaritan partners, has reclaimed more land and restored more streams than any other Federal agency,” said Joe Pizarchik, OSM Director. “Since its inception, OSM and its state and tribal partners have invested over $6.8 billion to reclaim more than 220,000 acres of abandoned mine lands.”
Despite this progress, considerable work remains to eliminate health, safety, and environmental problems caused by past mining practices. “I encourage our partners to reexamine the remaining environmental problems and look at them as renewable energy opportunities,” Pizarchik added. “For example, can an abandoned mine be reclaimed to prepare a site for renewable energy? Can water tainted by acid discharges from an abandoned mine be treated and used as a source of geothermal energy?”
The Abandoned Mine Land program is funded through fees assessed on annual coal production and pays the costs of these reclamation projects. The 21 non-certified states apply to OSM for specific reclamation projects throughout the fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2010. The seven certified states and tribes, those that have completed their reclamation programs, can use these funds for any purpose; therefore, the FY 2010 Budget proposed to terminate these grants to reduce the deficit.
The following list shows the funds available to eligible states and tribes for Fiscal Year 2010.