“North Liberty Mine Reclamation Complete”
By Melissa Busler
Stream Restoration Inc.

 

March 15, 2004

(North Liberty, PA) - Working quickly to avoid frigid water conditions and chilly air, about ten youth from George Junior Republic, their two chaperones, Shaun Busler and Cliff Denholm of BioMost, Inc., and Dr. Fred Brenner of Grove City College planted 3000 wetland plants in just a couple of hours as the final step of the reclamation process of North Liberty. The site, located approximately 4 miles from the Grove City Outlet Malls in Liberty Township, Mercer County, was mined extensively in the 1940s. It was originally reclaimed in 2001 with a public-private partnership effort. Two ponds were built as part of the Erosion and Sedimentation control plan, and a portion of these ponds was converted into wetlands, completed on October 18, 2003.

Implementing the project meant restoring over 40 acres of abandoned minelands situated on a topographic high which was formerly productive farmland. In fact, the landowners were still farming the region not affected by the old mine. To fix the problem, water that had accumulated in the strip mine pits was pumped and treated, and the pits were "limed", backfilled, and regarded to approximate original contours. Soil supplements were applied and the area has been restored to hayland.

This project was important for several reasons. From an environmental perspective, this site was responsible for the pollution of surface and ground water, shown clearly by the presence of degraded water in open pits, seeps/springs, and tributaries. Subsurface water under about 300 acres had been severely degraded. From a safety perspective, this site had dangerously steep highwalls (up to 60 feet in height) located near a small community, as well as open water-filled pits along a public road. The open pits contained abandoned mine drainage that overflowed during the wet seasons to pollute tributaries to Wolf Creek. From a grass-roots perspective, this project had overwhelming local support. 128 residents of this small, rural area signed a petition supporting the restoration of this mine site. Residents were interested in bettering their community and were not afraid to get involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students from Grove City College assisted with monitoring the seeps below the site, constructing wetlands, and completing an inventory of water quality conditions. Also partnering with Stream Restoration Incorporated in this restoration effort were Amerikohl Mining, Inc., BioMost, Inc., David and Linda Beatty, and the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition.

The North Liberty project was the first abandoned mineland restoration in the Wolf Creek Basin supported by a grass-roots initiative. Its success is to be applauded: over 7,000,000 gallons of severely degraded raw pit water was pumped and treated, 15 acres of dangerous open pits and hazardous highwalls have been eliminated, over 40 acres of abandoned minelands have been returned to agricultural productivity, ~1/4 acre of wetlands has been created, 1 and ¼ acres of open water habitat have been made, and community support for future projects has been expanded.

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