An Indiana DNR Division of Reclamation (DOR) project in southwest Indiana has received the highest regional award the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) issues annually.
The award is for the Narrow Lake project in Sullivan County. The project addressed public safety concerns posed by a large highwall left by the Sullivan #27 mine, which operated between 1944 and 1947 in what is now a frequently visited section of Greene-Sullivan State Forest. Ranging between 10- and 50-feet high and 3,850 feet long, the steep and unstable highwall was a danger to visitors and State Forest employees.
To address the safety hazard, the DOR backfilled the highwall to a safer 4:1 slope using geomorphic landscape design, which mimics natural topography to better withstand erosion over time. The highwall backfill required the DOR to reconfigure the lake and the surrounding area.
The DOR not only made the site safer, it also improved its recreational amenities. First, DOR added a 6-foot-wide safety ledge approximately 1.5 feet below the water surface to the perimeter of the reconfigured mine pit lake to provide visitors a better means of exiting the lake. In addition, DOR added 10 fish habitat structures to the reconfigured lake bottom to provide better fishing opportunities. DOR also added a second gravel boat ramp to the southeast shore to improve boat access. Level areas were created to allow for the construction of new cabins. Finally, the DOR added more than a mile of new trails.
The project was designed by engineers at the DOR’s Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program, and project-construction activities were done by general contractor Kern’s Excavating, LLC, of Bruceville.
Indiana was among five winners of the 2019 AML Reclamation Awards. A panel of judges composed of directors of state and tribal reclamation programs and OSMRE managers determined the recipients. From 1982 to present, the AML program in Indiana has restored more than 1,100 AML construction sites with approximately 10,000 acres of pre-law abandoned coal mines and related impacts.
OSMRE will present its Abandoned Mine Reclamation Awards during the annual conference of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs in Pittsburgh on Sept. 9.
The DNR Division of Reclamation administers the surface coal mining laws for Indiana. Its Inspection and Enforcement Section permits and inspects active coal mines. The AML program is responsible for eliminating threats to the public and environment remaining from coal mining activity prior to the enactment of current law. All activities are funded through fees collected from active coal mining production. For more information, call the division field office in Jasonville at 812-665-2207; or toll-free if calling inside Indiana at 1-800-772-6463.
To view all DNR news releases, please see dnr.IN.gov.