CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Six Mountain State economic and community development projects have been approved to share $30 million in Pilot Project funding being disbursed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation (AML).
Congress authorized the project funding last December under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, using U.S. Treasury funds to supply a total of $90 million to be split evenly between West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. The goal is to accelerate remediation of AML sites that have the potential to boost the local economy in historic coal regions which have been hard hit by the industry’s decline.
The West Virginia projects were approved this past summer by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), which announced the program funding and criteria in the spring. To obtain funding approval, each grant project must be developed on or adjacent to an AML site (a site where mining was conducted prior to Aug. 3, 1977, when federal mining regulations were passed) and had to be able to demonstrate in the application the potential to create positive economic and community development outcomes.
While the DEP did not initiate the project ideas, solicit grant applications or provide any share of the funding, AML employees have served as facilitators throughout the application and approval process by helping applicants understand the project criteria and application requirements, working as liaisons between the applicants and OSMRE to accelerate the grant approval process, and to distribute the funding to the grant recipients.
All six projects have received the go-ahead to start spending their grant allocations but are in various stages of the planning, design and build process.
The six West Virginia Pilot Projects are as follows:
1.) Patriot Guardens Golden Delicious Apple Project: This project was initiated by the West Virginia National Guard in conjunction with DEP’s Office of Special Reclamation and Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation, West Virginia State University Extension Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, ERP Compliant Fuels and Pardee Natural Resources. As a catalyst and facilitator of Patriot Guardens, the West Virginia National Guard is working to enhance and diversify West Virginia’s economic development and recovery, maximize agriculture profitability, and maintain the state’s rural heritage. The project involves planting 100,000 apple trees on 500 acres in Nicholas and Clay counties, the latter of which is where the golden delicious apple was first discovered, in order to attract other related facilities to the area and to put displaced coal miners and veterans to work. The project received approximately $5.3 million in AML Pilot Project funding.
For more information about the Patriot Guardens Project, contact LT Brittany Evans: 304-561-6439, email@example.com
2.) Sullivan Industrial Park Project: This project, spearheaded by the West Virginia National Guard and Beaver Coal Company, involves the development of an industrial park at the intersection of interstates 64 and 77 in Beckley. The first tenant of this park would be the West Virginia National Guard, which plans to hire workers to do Department of Defense equipment repair and repurposing. The work would include Humvee repairs and 5-ton vehicle refurbishments. The project received $12 million in AML Pilot Project funding.
For more information about the Sullivan Industrial Park Project, contact Todd Reynolds: 304-561-6568, firstname.lastname@example.org
3.) I-79 Technology Park Mine Reclamation and Economic Expansion Project: This project by the Marion County Commission and West Virginia High Technology Foundation would expand an existing technology park in Fairmont to include three future economic development sites. Those sites would house knowledge-oriented companies. The project received nearly $4 million in AML Pilot Project funding.
For more information on the I-79 Technology Park Mine Reclamation and Economic Expansion Project, contact Bradley Calandrelli: 304-333-6821, email@example.com
4.) Aquaponics on AML Project: The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, Coalfield Development Corporation, and Refresh Appalachia are teaming up on a project to build an aquaponics facility in Kermit to produce commercial quantities of fish and vegetables by using renewable energy sources. The project aims to expand upon the partnership’s success in growing a sustainable agriculture industry and retraining a displaced workforce with a proven workforce development model. The project received nearly $3.6 million in AML Pilot Project funding.
For more information on the Aquaponics on AML Project, contact Leasha Johnson: 304-235-0042, firstname.lastname@example.org
5/6.) Highland Mountain Waterline Extension Project and Crickmer Road Waterline
Extension Project: These two Danese Public Service District projects involve extension of
water lines to serve 43 new customers and potentially attract business and agricultural development to the area. These projects together received $4.1 million in AML Pilot Project funding.
For more information about the Danese Highland Mountain Waterline Extension Project and/or the Crickmer Road Waterline Extension Project, contact Cynthia Jones: 304-438-6686, email@example.com
For more DEP news and information, go to
. Also, be sure to connect with the agency on all social media platforms. Follow @DEPWV on Twitter and find us on YouTube by searching “Environment Matters.” For specific information about our REAP (Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan), West Virginia Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), West Virginia Watershed Improvement Branch, Youth Environmental Program and Human Resources initiatives, connect on Facebook.