The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has begun work to reduce the impacts of pre-law coal mining to the Fayette County property that will become the permanent home for the Boy Scouts’ National Jamboree.
“We’ve committed $10 to $12 million over a three-year period to do eligible reclamation projects within the property,” said Eric Coberly, chief of the DEP’s Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation program.
For its National Scouting Center, which will also include a high-adventure base and summer camp, the Boy Scouts of America reviewed 80 sites in 28 states before deciding on a 10,600-acre location atop Garden Ground Mountain, near Glen Jean in Fayette County. The Boy Scouts hope to host their 2013 Jamboree -- a 10-day event, every four years -- at the new site. The high-adventure base and camp are expected to open in 2014.
The DEP will address dangerous highwalls, exposed portals, old coal refuse piles and abandoned concrete structures, all remnants of underground and surface mining on the property that ceased prior to 1977, when federal laws began requiring more responsible reclamation from coal companies.
The property includes close to 15 miles of highwall with an average height of 30 feet. Falling rocks from the highwall are a constant problem. There are also more than 40 mine portals easily accessible to the public. Reclamation work will include backfilling highwall locations and re-grading those areas to allow for access roads; sealing portals; demolishing and disposing of concrete structures; and re-grading, re-vegetating and properly draining a two-acre coal refuse pile.
Coberly said the Phase I contract has been awarded to Eastern Arrow Corp. at a cost of $4.5 million and should be completed this winter. Phase II is under design and will cost close to $5 million. Work should be completed in time for the 2013 Jamboree, Coberly said.
The AML program is funded by a fee placed on coal, currently set at 31.5 cents per ton for surface-mined coal and 13.5 cents per ton for coal mined underground.