hope for the Future by Intheaters

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									 common ground

hope for the Future
        A story of young people, abandoned mine drainage and
        a new vision for Clearfield’s water resources
        By paul Zeph, Office of water Management, DEp




“w
                          e as a
                          civilization
                          have made a
                          real mess of
                          our	planet.	
Luckily,	there	is	still	much	we	can	
do	to	fix	it.	It’s	amazing	how	much	
of	an	effect	cleaning	the	garbage	out	
from	in	and	around	streams,	creeks	
and	rivers	has.”
	     These	words	are	from	a	
Clearfield	Area	High	School	student	
talking	about	his	school’s	watershed	
club	–	a	hands-on	education	and	
action program that evolved from
a	teacher’s	experience	as	a	child	
growing	up	surrounded	by	strip	
mines.	
	     Today	more	than	50	students	
get	together	regularly	to	learn	about	
water chemistry and abandoned             iNDUStrial lEGaCY pennsylvania still suffers with more than 180,000 acres of
underground	coal	mines.	They	study	       abandoned mine lands that drain highly acidic water into local streams and
what happens when acidic rock             lakes.
is	exposed	to	water	and	oxygen	           have inherited this seemingly            	   Mike	Gill,	a	geography	teacher	at	
underground,	creating	tributaries	        hopeless	situation.	It’s	what	           Clearfield	High,	grew	up	on	a	farm	
that	have	the	pH	of	vinegar.	The	         they’ve	grown	up	knowing,	and	it’s	      surrounded	by	coal	mining	and	saw	
students	then	understand	why	             been that way as long as anyone          damaged	lands	daily.	His	parents,	
so many of the streams they see           in	Clearfield	can	remember.	             however,	nurtured	a	passion	for	
around	them	in	Clearfield	County	         Unfortunately,	that’s	the	legacy	        nature	which	helped	direct	Mike	
are orange and strangely devoid of        of living above a coal seam that         into	a	career	of	teaching	about	the	
life.		                                   was, and still is, mined for electric-   land	with	a	desire	to	involve	young	
	     The	young	people	of	Clearfield	     generating	power	plants.		               people	in	better	understanding	their	

42   Pennsylvania Borough News           april 2009
                                                                                                     environmental news


                                                                                      DEp invests in abandoned
                                                                                      Mine reclamation projects
                                                                                          DEP completed 57 abandoned mine
                                                                                      reclamation projects in 2008 that
                                                                                      reclaimed	more	than	960	acres	of	mine-
                                                                                      scarred lands and will restore life to dead
                                                                                      streams.	In	a	recent	DEP	press	release,	
                                                                                      Acting	Secretary	John	Hanger	said	
                                                                                      abandoned mine lands endanger the
                                                                                      public	and	limit	economic	development	
                                                                                      and	recreational	opportunities	in	former	
                                                                                      mining	communities.	“We	are	reclaiming	
                                                                                      more	than	just	abandoned	mine	lands	
                                                                                      –	we	are	reclaiming	entire	communities	
                                                                                      that	have	struggled	for	years	to	overcome	
                                                                                      the	scars	of	our	industrial	past,”	Hanger	
                                                                                      said.	“The	projects	completed	in	2008	
                                                                                      pumped	$32	million	into	Pennsylvania’s	
                                                                                      economy and provided millions
                                                                                      more	in	indirect	benefits	by	returning	
FaCE oF thE problEM one of the many polluted seeps entering Montgomery
                                                                                      former	wastelands	to	productive	use,	
run with high levels of acidity and iron oxide.
                                                                                      eliminating	significant	safety	hazards,	
                                                                                      and	restoring	life	to	long-dead	streams.”
physical	and	natural	environment.	         	    The	initial	enthusiasm	was	               In addition to the projects completed
In	2003,	he	had	the	opportunity	           short-lived,	however.	Like	many	           in 2008, another 47 reclamation projects
to	attend	a	Chesapeake	Bay	                start-up	programs,	the	grant	money	        are	underway	in	Pennsylvania	that	will	
                                                                                      reclaim	1,710	acres	of	abandoned	mine	
Foundation	teacher	workshop	to	            was	limited	and	soon	ran	out.	Field	
                                                                                      lands	at	a	projected	cost	of	nearly	$57.8	
get some ideas on how to involve           trip	funds	also	became	scarce,	
                                                                                      million.	The	largest	source	of	funding	
students	with	stream	monitoring	           bringing	the	club	to	a	grinding	halt.	
                                                                                      for the reclamation of mine sites in
and	watershed	cleanup	activities.          By	this	time,	Rachel	Kester	had	
                                                                                      Pennsylvania is the federal Abandoned
     With assistance from                  arrived	as	the	new	Clearfield	County	
                                                                                      Mine	Lands	Fund,	which	is	overseen	
Donna	Carnahan	of	the	county	              Conservation	District	Watershed	
                                                                                      by	the	U.S.	Office	of	Surface	Mining.	
conservation district and chemistry        Specialist,	and	picked	up	where	
                                                                                      Other	funding	sources	include	Growing	
teacher	Dave	Domico,	Mike	                 Donna	left	off.		                          Greener	grants,	which	are	used	primarily	
launched	a	watershed	club	with	            	    Rachel,	it	turns	out,	grew	up	        to	fund	mine	drainage	projects	through	
about	a	dozen	interested	students.	        in	Clearfield	County	seeing	first-         local	watershed	groups,	and	forfeitures	
Initial	funding	from	local	and	state	      hand how people mistreat damaged           of reclamation bonds that are posted by
grants	helped	him	purchase	test	kits	      streams	that	they	assume	are	              mining companies to cover the cost of
and	supplies,	and	the	team	began	          hopelessly dead from what’s known          reclaiming mine sites if the company
taking	students	out	to	local	streams	      as	acid	mine	drainage.	She’s	devoted	      is	unable	or	unwilling	to	complete	site	
to	learn	about	water	pollution	first	      her career to helping people see a         restoration	once	mining	is	finished.
hand	by	examining	the	streams’	            different	future	for	these	polluted	       	 Pennsylvania	has	approximately	
chemistry	and	biological	life.	            local streams and the larger rivers        180,000	acres	of	abandoned	mine	lands	
	    Another	student	tells	the	story	      that receive the acidic water from         dating back to when coal mining began
of	how	she	got	involved:	“I	was	tired	     the	tributaries.	Her	crystal	ball	sees	    in	the	Commonwealth	in	the	1700s.	More	
of going to the library and reading        streams	with	a	more	natural	pH	            than two billion tons of waste coal sits in
every	day	during	club	period.	So	I	        teeming	with	aquatic	insects	and	          piles across the state and an estimated
went	to	one	watershed	club	meeting	        full	of	native	brook	trout.                4,600	miles	of	rivers	and	streams	are	
–	I	was	hooked.	Not	only	were	the	              Rachel went to work helping           degraded	by	mine	drainage.	For	more	
teachers	who	ran	the	club	my	              Dave to write grants and seek              information,	visit	www.depweb.state.
favorites,	but	they	made	me	feel	like	     out	the	funding	needed	to	keep	            pa.us,	keyword:	Abandoned	Mines.	(B)
my	contribution	meant	something.”          the	program	alive.	At	a	meeting	

                                                                                     april 2009   www.boroughs.org      43
                      
Photo by Donna Carnahan


                                                                                                                past practices Created
                                                                                                                today’s problems
                                                                                                                	 Talk	to	anyone	who	grew	up	in	
                                                                                                                Pennsylvania’s	bituminous	and	
                                                                                                                anthracite coal regions, and chances
                                                                                                                are they will be familiar with the terms
                                                                                                                yellow boy, honey pile, red dog, gob pile,
                                                                                                                ash	dump	and	sulfur	creek.	These	are	
                                                                                                                the nicknames given to the coal mining
                                                                                                                scars left behind after the coal was
                                                                                                                mined,	and	the	company	went	out	of	
                                                                                                                business.
                                                                                                                	 Once	upon	a	time,	a	stream	running	
                                                                                                                orange with iron from mine drainage
                                                                                                                was a sign of prosperity - a sign that
                                                                                                                meant	a	productive	coal	mine	was	in	
                                                                                                                operation	nearby.	The	mine	may	have	
                                                                                                                been	productive,	but	the	stream	was	
                                                                                                                dead,	serving	only	as	an	industrial	
                                                                                                                toilet,	a	“sulfur	creek.”
                          tEStiNG thE watEr Students collect aquatic insects and other stream organisms
                                                                                                                	 Few	people	knew	exactly	why	the	
                          in Montgomery run to determine the health of the stream.
                                                                                                                sulfur	creeks	were	orange	and	devoid	
                                                                                                                of	life.	It	had	something	to	do	with	the	
                                                                                                                mines,	but	the	mines	were	a	way	of	life	
                          of	the	Susquehanna	West	Branch	            in the Appalachian region of
                                                                                                                and	it	looked	like	the	sulfur	creeks	and	
                          Coalition,	she	told	me	her	story	and	      Pennsylvania.	With	a	$3,000	grant	
                                                                                                                the	boney	piles	(mounds	of	waste	coal)	
                          her dream of instilling hope in the        for	new	supplies	and	buses	to	get	
                                                                                                                were	here	to	stay.
                          hearts	and	minds	of	Clearfield’s	          the	students	out	in	the	field,	the	
                                                                                                                	 Abandoned	mine	drainage	(AMD)	
                          young	people.	She	knows	that	when	         club	was	back	in	business!	
                                                                                                                usually	contains	iron	that	smothers	
                          one	stream	is	brought	back	to	life	        	    Early	on,	local	volunteers	from	
                                                                                                                the stream bed and stains it bright
                          and	trout	return	for	the	first	time	       the	Senior	Environment	Corps	had	
                                                                                                                orange,	destroying	aquatic	habitat.	
                          in	generations,	it	shows	students	         been helping to teach the basics of
                                                                                                                AMD	sometimes	contains	aluminum	
                          they	don’t	have	to	live	out	their	lives	   water monitoring, and staff from
                                                                                                                that stains stream beds white and
                          surrounded	by	polluted,	acidified	         the	Chesapeake	Bay	Foundation	had	
                                                                                                                poisons	aquatic	life.	Passive	treatment	
                          streams that serve as garbage              added	some	additional	instruction.	
                                                                                                                systems are designed to remove iron
                          dumps	and	sewers.		                        With	the	state-level	infusion	of	
                                                                                                                and	aluminum.
                          	    She	also	knows	that	one	              support	and	interest,	new	partners	
                                                                                                                	 It	took	fewer	than	100	years	for	the	
                          watershed	club	helping	to	clean	           have	joined	in	the	effort.	Two	
                                                                                                                careless coal mining practices of the
                          up	one	stream	can	lead	to	another	         science teachers at the school have
                                                                                                                past	to	degrade	much	of	Pennsylvania’s	
                          stream,	then	another	club	in	              volunteered	as	advisors,	and	the	
                                                                                                                streams	and	landscapes.	When	an	
                          another school, and more streams,          school	district	is	providing	support	
                                                                                                                increasing	number	of	mines	were	
                          and	more	clubs—	well,	you	get	the	         for	field	trips.	Local	businesses	have	
                                                                                                                no	longer	productive,	they	were	
                          picture	you	can	also	see	what	drives	      pledged	annual	financial	help	to	
                                                                                                                often abandoned - a problem today’s
                          Rachel	to	help	Mike	and	Dave	get	          defray	costs.		And	the	students	are	
                                                                                                                generations	now	face.
                          the	support	needed	to	keep	their	          getting	in	line	to	join!
                                                                                                                	 In	1977,	Congress	passed	the	Surface	
                          fledgling	watershed	club	alive.            	    They’re	learning	and	having	
                                                                                                                Mining	Control	and	Reclamation	Act	
                          	    As	it	turns	out,	the	Pennsylvania	    fun,	but	also	making	visible	changes	
                                                                                                                (SMCRA),	establishing	laws	and	taxes	
                          Department of Environmental                around	Clearfield,	particularly	along	
                                                                                                                which	require	present-day	coal	mine	
                          Protection has a new initiative,           their primary adopted stream,
                                                                                                                operators to take responsibility for
                          called	the	Mid-Atlantic	Highlands	         Montgomery	Run.		An	annual	spring	
                          Action Program, which was looking          cleanup	is	removing	tons	of	trash	                     (Continued on page 48)
                          for	just	such	a	program	to	assist	                  (Continued on page 48)

                                                                                                               april 2009   www.boroughs.org         45
                                           
          (Continued from page 41)                       (Continued from page 45)

investment with a higher yield               from	the	watershed.	A	neglected	          the assistance and cooperation of
that	entails	an	unwarranted	level	           hiking trail along the stream is          a	large	number	of	organizations	
of	risk	or	restriction.	                     being	reconstructed	to	enable	others	     teaming	up	together	for	a	good	
	 A	local	government’s	first	                to	enjoy	the	beautiful	forest	that	       cause.	Let’s	hope	local	efforts	such	
priority	should	always	be	the	               surrounds	its	headwaters.	Students	       as	these	can	continue	and	only	
safety of its investment over                constructed	a	kiosk	at	the	post	office	   expand	in	years	to	come.”
growth, especially in times of               in	Hyde	next	to	the	Run	to	keep	          	    Clearfield	has	good	reason	now	
economic	uncertainty.	Helping	               residents	informed	about	events	          to	have	hope	for	a	future	with	clean	
Pennsylvania’s local governments             and	stream	conditions.                    water.	(B)
maintain	the	security	and	                   	    The	headwaters	of	Montgomery	
availability	of	their	funds	is	              Run	flow	into	a	reservoir	that	
PLGIT’s	goal,	as	it	is	the	mission	          supplies	Clearfield’s	drinking	water,	            (Continued from page 45)
of	any	LGIP	in	their	service	to	             so everyone is learning important
their respective local government            lessons	about	protecting	the	water	       the reclamation and restoration
entities.	(B)                                and watershed they depend on for          of the land that they temporarily
                                             daily	life.	Involvement	with	the	         disturb	while	mining	coal.	Because	
    This information does not represent      club	is	also	promoting	leadership	        of	SMCRA	and	other	incentives,	
an offer to sell or a solicitation of an     initiatives	and	future	career	choices.	   modern-day coal operators
offer to buy or sell any fund or other       One	club	member	so	far	has	served	        now play an important role in
security. Investors should consider the      as an intern with the conservation        maintaining	our	environment.
investment objectives, risks, charges
                                             district,	and	club	members	are	           	 But	more	work	still	needs	to				
and expenses before investing in any
                                             organizing	watershed	education	           be done to heal the scars of the
of the Trust’s portfolios. This and other
                                             activities	for	the	annual	Earth	Day	      past.	(B)
information about the Trust’s portfolios
is available in each portfolio’s current
                                             celebration	at	school.	
Information Statement, which should be       	    Mike	is	not	just	looking	at	             This information is adapted from
read carefully before investing. Copies      Clearfield’s	streams	and	the	             the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for
of these Information Statements may          Susquehanna	West	Branch;	his	             Abandoned Mine Reclamation’s web
be obtained by calling 800-572-1472 or       focus	is	on	the	entire	Chesapeake	        site. For more information, visit www.
are available on the Trust’s website at      Bay.	“None	of	these	efforts”	says	        wpcamr.org/mission/problem.html.
www.plgit.com. While the PLGIT and           Mike	“could	be	completed	without	
PLGIT/ARM portfolios seek to maintain
a stable net asset value of $1.00 per
share and the PLGIT/TERM portfolio                       (Continued from page 47)
seeks to achieve a net asset value of
$1.00 per share at its stated maturity,       women who have been stopped               	    The	findings	also	showed	that	
it is possible to lose money investing in     for	speeding.	Both	men	and	               people get progressively more
the Trust. An investment in the Trust is      women drivers who have been               conservative	about	speeding	as	
not insured or guaranteed by the Federal      stopped for speeding in the last          they	age.	A	25	year-old	driver	is	
Deposit Insurance Corporation or any          year	are	about	25	percent	more	           75 percent more likely to think it
other governmental agency. Shares of the      likely to believe that it is safe to      is	safe	to	drive	up	to	20	mph	over	
Trust’s portfolios are distributed by PFM     drive	up	to	20	mph	over	the	speed	        the speed limit than a 50 year-old
Fund Distributors, Inc., member Financial                                               driver.	(B)
                                              limit	than	those	who	have	not.
Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
                                              	    “This	is	probably	because	
(www.finra.org). PFM Fund Distributors,                                                 This article was originally published on
                                              people	who	habitually	speed	are	
Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of PFM                                                Friday, November 7, 2008 be e! Science
Asset Management LLC.
                                              not	significantly	deterred	by	being	
                                                                                        News at http://esciencenews.com. To
    PLGIT, PLGIT-Class Shares, PLGIT/
     SM                                       stopped	for	speeding,”	Mannering	
                                                                                        access a copy of the report, visit Elsevier
PLUS-Class Shares, PLGIT/I-Class              said.	“They	might	become	slightly	
                                                                                        and search for Transportation Research
Shares, PLGIT/TERM, PLGIT-CD, PLGIT/          more	conservative,	but	it	doesn’t	
                                                                                        Part F, then search Mannering, Purdue.
ARM, PLGIT/SAM, and PLGIT-CAP are             slow them down to the level of
service marks of the Pennsylvania Local       people who are inherently more
Government Investment Trust.                  conservative.”


48    Pennsylvania Borough News             april 2009

								
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