Dave Johnston Mine Reclamation Earns National Award

Former mine site

Reclamation efforts at the Dave Johnston Mine in Glenrock, Wyoming, have been recognized with numerous awards from federal, state and environmental agencies. Topping the list is the 2012 Excellence in Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Award for exemplary reclamation accomplishments.

Presented September 26, 2012 by the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, the award recognizes Interwest Mining and Glenrock Coal Company for fully restoring the Dave Johnston surface mine and developing innovative reclamation techniques.

During its operational years from 1958 to 2000, the Dave Johnston Mine produced and shipped over 104 million tons of coal, affecting 4,798 acres of land. When mine closure was announced in 1998, the company laid out a plan to fully reclaim the land.

“Federal surface mining laws require mine operators to restore disturbed land back to its approximate original contours and original or better condition,” said Scott Child, manager of lands and regulatory affairs for Interwest Mining.

The company’s efforts at the Dave Johnston Mine centered on transforming the landscape back to its pre-mining appearance and improving the habitat for species native to the area. This included backfilling the open surface pits with the extracted subsoil, reshaping the disturbed land back to its approximate original contours, replacing the topsoil, and establishing drainages by seeding plants and shrubs native to the area.

Prior to mining, water in the area was scarce. To improve the habitat, the company implemented advanced technologies to capture water from the mine’s former highwall and bring it to the surface in six man-made springs.

The springs have helped to attract wildlife back to the area. Sage grouse, antelope, rabbits and deer populate the area. Coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and bears have also been spotted.

After the restoration work was completed, the company identified another beneficial – and low-impact – use for the land. The former mine site is now home to three wind projects – Glenrock I, Rolling Hills and Glenrock III – which together produce 237 megawatts of renewable energy for PacifiCorp customers.

These were the first wind projects built on company-owned land. The electricity is carried to customers over transmission lines built along the old railroad corridor from the mine site to the Dave Johnston Plant, avoiding any further disruption to the reclaimed lands.

The company also received the 2012 State of Wyoming Reclamation Award from the state Department of Environmental Quality.

PacifiCorp “has a history of regularly ‘going the extra mile’ to solve technical restoration challenges” and using “innovative reclamation elements that enhance wildlife habitat,” said Jonathan Stauffer, the DEQ’s Land Quality Division permit coordinator, in a news release.

He also said PacifiCorp’s approach to the reclamation process continues to be a model of industry cooperation and innovation that yields the efficient return of mined land to a condition that will be productive for future land uses.

“These awards acknowledge the company’s dedication to reclamation efforts and environmental stewardship,” Child said.