CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State regulators will spent up to $12 million over the next three years to clean up abandoned coal mine sites at the future location of the Boy Scouts of America's National Jamboree in Fayette County, the Department of Environmental Protection announced Monday.
DEP officials said the money, from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands program, would reclaim dangerous highwalls, exposed mine portals, old refuse piles and abandoned concrete structures left from mining in the area prior to 1977.
"We've committed to $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, the Boy Scouts reviewed 80 sites in 28 states before deciding on a 10,600-acre location atop Garden Ground Mountain near Glen Jean. The Boy Scouts hope to host their 2013 Jamboree -- a 10-day event held every four years -- at the new site. The high-adventure base and camp are expected to open in 2014.
In its news release, DEP said 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, the agency said.
There are also more than 40 mine portals easily accessible to the public. Reclamation work will include backfilling highwall locations and regrading those areas to allow for access roads, sealing portals, demolishing and disposing of concrete structures, and regrading, revegetating, and properly draining a 2-acre coal refuse pile.
Coberly said a first-phase contract has been awarded to Eastern Arrow Corp. at a cost of $4.5 million and should be completed by this winter. A second phase is under design and will cost close to $5 million. Work should be completed in time for the 2013 Jamboree, DEP said.
DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said the state had agreed to complete the mine reclamation work as part of a commitment to bringing the Boy Scouts project to West Virginia. The AML projects were already part of the state's inventory of needed cleanups, Huffman said, but the timeline for completing them was moved up because of the project.
"They couldn't use it in the form it was in and we made a commitment to do what we could as a state," Huffman said.
Under the 1977 federal strip-mining law, coal operators pay a per-ton coal production tax that funds cleanups of mine sites that were abandoned prior to the law and its requirements for reclamation of mined land.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.