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Susquehanna Life

Earth Conservancy Projects

Mar 17, 2019 06:31AM

More information about Earth Conservancy and its projects.

Earth Conservancy, a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to address the impacts of past coalmining operations in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Our work centers on the former holdings of the Blue Coal Corporation, which total nearly 16,500 acres. Explore our website to learn more about our mission, history, and projects. Through the reclamation, restoration, and redevelopment of these mine-scarred sites and impacted watersheds, we hope to contribute to the economic and environmental revitalization of the Wyoming Valley.

Earth Conservancy’s primary work is reclamation.  The belief is that through reclamation, both environmental restoration and economic revitalization can occur.  In the last 20 years, nearly 2,000 acres of mine-scarred lands have been reclaimed and now are available for – or are already in – constructive use, including mitigating the damage of acid mine drainage in local watersheds.  All projects trace back to an overarching plan--one that seeks a more livable community now, and clears the way for positive, progressive change for future generations.

Bliss Bank Reclamation

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Looking out over the mine spoils of Bliss Bank.

While in operation, the Blue Coal Corporation used Bliss Bank to store mine waste.  Abandoned for decades, the site has been an eyesore, with mountainous piles of culm and deep pits filled with stagnant water.  In its neglected state, the site invites illegal dumping and trespassing by ATVs. The Bliss project not only will discourage these activities, but also will improve the environment by mitigating acid mine drainage and nonpoint source pollution in the Nanticoke Creek watershed.  Long-term, it is hoped the site will host mixed-use development.  Concentrating development in established urban areas tends to deter sprawl and preserve undeveloped greenspace, simultaneously encouraging economic growth in the region. Significant work needs to be performed in order to reclaim the nearly 200-acre Bliss Bank. The project will move approximately 830,000 cubic yards of material. There are several pits on the site that will be filled as part of the project.  Extensive stormwater management work will also occur. Funding for the project has been provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Earth Conservancy. Reclamation will be accomplished in several phases.  Phase I (Parcels A and B), began in 2014, and was completed in 2016.  Engineering design for Phase II (Parcels C and D) is currently underway.

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Bliss Bank:  Pre-Construction

Looking out over the massive culm banks of the 200-acre Bliss Bank.  Phase I of the reclamation project addressed approximately 47 acres.  Phase II, beginning in 2016, will reclaim another 54 acres.

Warrior Run

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View of the reclaimed mine dump off of Slope Street in Warrior Run.

In 2014, Earth Conservancy was awarded an EPA Brownfields Cleanup grant for its Warrior Run reclamation project.  Located off of Slope Street, and adjacent to a residential neighborhood, the area was covered with mine spoils that had been dumped by local collieries decades ago.  Aerial views showed the waste rock trailing through the woods like fingers. Illegal dumping on the site was a common problem.  Reclamation activities occurred in 2015.  Now appearing as a healthy meadow, the site will eventually be made available for residential development.

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Warrior Run:  Pre-Construction

Since the area surrounding the mine spoils was forested, Earth Conservancy had contractors construct an access road to reach the site.  The baffle on the left side of the image is a silt sock, which prevents erosion and sedimentation during construction work.

Hanover 9 Reclamation

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Hanover 9 is one of Earth Conservancy’s larger sites requiring reclamation. At 390 acres, it spans two municipalities: Nanticoke City and Hanover Township. The site is bordered by S.R. 29, Kosciuszko Street, Middle Road, and the Susquehanna River. Previously, the Blue Coal Corporation had mined the tract, as well as used it to hold residual mine wastes. Upon Blue Coal’s bankruptcy in the 1970s, the site was left in an environmentally degraded condition. EC began to address the property in 2011.

Because of its expanse, Hanover 9 was divided into smaller pieces, as seen on the map to the left. Each would be reclaimed as funding allowed. Work on Parcels A, B, C, and D has been completed, with areas for additional reclamation projects to occur. Funding for the Hanover 9 reclamation has been provided through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program, and Earth Conservancy.

Parcel A: Reclamation of Parcel A began in April 2011. This section of the Hanover 9 site is located within the City of Nanticoke, directly across Kosciuszko Street from the entrance to Luzerne County Community College. Much of the work focused on filling in deep holes and contouring the site to accommodate mixed-use development. The reclamation was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Earth Conservancy. Work was completed in 2012.

Parcels B, C, & D: Parcels B, C, and D were both mined and used as waste holding areas. The sites were covered by scrub vegetation, mounds of mine spoils, as well as deep pits. Illegal dumping was also prevalent. Engineering activities began in the fall of 2012, and work began early in 2014. Work was completed in September 2014.

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Hanover 9:  Pre-Construction

The Hanover 9 property had extensive damage due to strip mining activities in search of residual coal.  As a result, both large pits and mounds of waste were present.


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