Carly Cirangle, University of Scranton Human Resource Management Major Volunteering with EPCAMR to Organize our File Management and Personnel File System

EPCAMR welcomes one of our latest Community Service Volunteers, Carly Cirangle, a Senior at the University of Scranton, majoring in Human Resource Management with a minor in Business and Psychology. Carly grew up in Manalapan, New Jersey, and is originally from Rome, Italy. Carly sought an opportunity in management with a non-profit organization that needed assistance in order to use her administrative and communication skills to both increase her experiences in this field of interest and to help create some added efficiency to the human resource management side of EPCAMR, which is needed. EPCAMR does not have funding to support a Human Resources Manager or Payroll Department, so the work that she is doing to set up individual files on all of our Staff and Volunteers and to create databases that we can have quick access to will be a great asset to our small organization. Her work will compliment the time being spent by our part-time Bookkeeper, Dierdre Jolley, who inputs all of our financial information into QuickBooks and scans and records our deposits, expenses, and grant tracking.

Carly Cirangle happily planting trees and landscaping around them at an event.

Carly Cirangle happily planting trees and landscaping around them at an event.

Carly is involved with the Society of Human Resources Management #0519, Northeast PA and has worked with the U. of Scranton to help clean up the City Streets on campus, organized a safe Halloween trick or treat walk for underpriveleged youth, and has collaborated with the Health and Administration Club to distribute special ordered packages to students. She was the Treasurer of the U. of Scranton’s Environmental Club for 4 years. Carly has also worked at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA where she was a Marketing Intern who managed ticket distribution among club seat members, created advertisements, operated the Arenas sponsors, and established charities. She has also previously worked at Barney’s New York Inc., New York, NY as a Human Resources Intern where she assisted in training staff on updated human resource (HR) policies and procedures, handled all orientation activities and induction process for a summer youth program, established a reputation for herself as accessible and having a quick response to staff/manager inquiries in a timely manner. Finally, Carly was also a Recreation Counselor back home in Manalapan, NJ for the Manalapan Township Parks & Recreation Board, where she managed reports for situations of conflict resolution and determined how to best address them as well as participated actively in activities related to motivating campers within the Park.

OrangeHRM, is an open source HR program that Carly suggested that EPCAMR use, given our limited budget, and she has agreed to spend nearly 40 hours of community service to us over the next two months to input all of the necessary files, database information, staff, volunteer, time sheets, evaluations, and personnel information into the program for EPCAMR.

Carly also has an interest in Agro-Forestry and will soon be entering the PEACE CORPS where she will be a volunteer in September 2014 and call Thise, (pronounced CHESS) Senegal, home for the next 2 years. She will be assisting the EPCAMR Staff and Watershed Outreach Interns in the next few weeks on a tree planting project at the Earth Conservancy’s Espy Run AMD Treatment Wetlands System location in Hanover Twp., Luzerne County, PA, using Groassis Waterboxxes.

Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director stated, “I’m really very grateful for Carly seeking EPCAMR out through our VolunteerMatch listing online that has served us quite well in obtaining VERY skilled and well-rounded students and community volunteers that share an interest in the environment. Not all of our listings are directly environmental, and so we have other opportunities to volunteer that most people don’t think about when one normally thinks about a non-profit environmental organization. We are a small, yet far-reaching organization with a long history of great work in the field of environmental restoration, stream remediation, and environmental education, and we do lack some areas of expertise, I’m not ashamed to admit it. Human Resources is one of them. We have to wear many hats and give ourselves many titles throughout the day to get the job done. Having Carly come in and set up this HR system in OrangeHRM, that is FREE and OPEN-SOURCE, which are two words that are like candy to kids in a candy store, is going to be a HUGE benefit to EPCAMR and myself as the Executive Director. Funding is very hard to come by to fill these types of positions in the grant world, so getting caught up on our backlog of administrative HR work and filing, is going to give me a big sigh of relief. I truly appreciate Carly coming to EPCAMR and gaining some valuable experiences with our organization as well, not just in terms of HRM, but in terms of her gaining a increased knowledge and perspective on the kind of work that we do in undeserved coalfield communities throughout NE and NC PA. She has already separated all of our full-time and part-time staff payroll and time sheet files into an easier to manage file folder system in my drawer making it much easier for me to insert the constant bi-weekly flow of paperwork into each of their respective files. What I haven’t had the time to do in years because of my time spent in other areas of importance on projects, grant management, project development, securing funding, networking, building coalitions, conducting cleanups, providing technical services to others, and conducting outdoor environmental education programs, she has done in less than a week. That’s amazing! ”

 

 

EPCAMR Promotes Kelsey Biondo to GIS Specialist to Lead the Way on our Mine Mapping Project for the PA Mine Subsidence Insurance Program

EPCAMR is happy to be able to promote Kelsey Biondo, our GIS Technician, and former Watershed Outreach Intern, to GIS Specialist today! Kelsey has been working on the Mine Mapping Project for the last 8 months part-time and during that timeframe has become very proficient in scanning, working with our scanning equipment, cataloging mine maps from the Northern Anthracite Coal Fields into the Commonwealth’s PA Historic Underground Mine Map Inventory System (PHUMMIS), indexing, and geo-referencing the maps using ArcGIS software to keep the project moving forward smoothly and efficiently. Kelsey has scanned thousands of maps and has gained valuable experience from the EPCAMR Staff, Staff from the California District Mining Office who are overseeing the project, and the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Pottsville District Mining Office Mining Specialist, Jim Andrews, on the interpretation of the underground mine maps, the symbology and legends from the various coal companies and coal collieries from up and down the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys, and she has been instrumental in creating the processes and inventory control system that will eventually help the Commonwealth of PA to properly index the mine maps from each of the Coal Fields for the Mine Subsidence Insurance Program as well as to help the PA DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation and the Pottsville District Mining Office have access to all of the coal vein maps, surface mine maps, cross-section maps, reclamation project maps, geology maps, mine fire maps, and mine pool maps, in a high resolution (400 dpi) image collection that will benefit the public who will also have access to this digital collection once completed.

 

Kelsey is a hard worker, efficient, often quiet, yet focused, on fulfilling the scope of work of our MSI Mine Mapping Project. She has agreed to step into a leadership position where given her seniority and experience in the EPCAMR Office, she will now be able to train other Staff coming in to work on the project as positions are filled. She has done a great job to date and will be providing some training and technical assistance to David Svab, another former Watershed Outreach Intern, who is now in the GIS Technician position, fulfilling the scanning and cataloging of the mine maps for the Northern Coal Fields. EPCAMR is still taking resumes to fill the other GIS Technician position that has room to move up, following training and provided that they can show they have achieved a high level of competency in the work load that they are given.

 

Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, stated, “I’m confident that from my very positive evaluation discussion with Kelsey earlier today, that since she is moving into the GIS Specialist position, knowing I expect her to take a more assertive leadership role from within the EPCAMR Staff, especially within our GIS Team, which, albeit is small at the moment, she will do an exceptional job! She is easy going, soft-spoken, goes with the flow, is a problem solver who works around hurdles, is getting more and more comfortable with the EPCAMR Staff, who are also laid back, yet very professional, have strong work ethics, and are very efficient and produce high quality work products, no matter what we are working on. She represents EPCAMR’s exceptional work standards that are a cut above the rest. It’s my job to put my Staff in positions where they can shine, allow them to grow professionally, mentor them, help them to find their passion, interact with the public, and develop strong positive working relationships among the Staff to build the strongest team that I possibly could to promote and support the mission and goals of EPCAMR. Like I’ve told her today, I am as sincere as they come and I like to treat my Staff like Family, because we spend as much or more time with each other on a daily basis than we do at home with our own families, and when we can make work seem like play and do it together as a family or team, it makes all of our work that much easier and enjoyable.”

 

Mike Hewitt, EPCAMR Program Manager, who oversees the GIS Team working on the project even went out of his way to create name templates for Dave and Kelsey yesterday with their titles on them out of fancy recycled bond paper and provided them to the two of them today. They were surprised and had a chuckle at the same time. Noone has ever made them a homemade name plate before. Robert joked, “It’s the little things we do to make our EPCAMR Family happy!” The smile on her face was priceless and bigger than the one that she had when she was an intern and I caught her off-guard and took a photo of her for the Staff Page when she first started with EPCAMR.”

 

Kelsey Biondo GIS Specialist

Kelsey Biondo, who was promoted today from her old title of GIS Technician to EPCAMR GIS Specialist is all smiles as she gets handed her new homemade name plate.

EPCAMR Looking to Fill Part-time GIS Specialist Position to work on our Anthracite Mine Mapping Project Immediately

EPCAMR is seeking to fill a Part-time GIS Specialist Position to work on our Anthracite Mine Mapping Project. Resumes are being accepted now through April 30th, 2014. Specifications and requirements of the job are attached. You MUST be familiar with ArcGIS 10.x and having a degree in GIS or related field will benefit you during the review process by EPCAMR when we consider applicants for the job and potential interviews. The hourly position will be dependent upon experience and degree, and since it is grant funded for the next 2.5 years and will range from $8 to 11.00/hr with the opportunity for merit based raises. EPCAMR GIS Specialist Job Description Submit your resume, along with a cover letter, LinkedIn Account profile, and Contact Information of References for 3 recommendations, should you not have any on your LinkedIn Account profile to Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, at rhughes@epcamr.org. You will be expected to accept an invitation from Robert to your publicly LinkedIn Account in order to assist with reviewing previously written recommendations from your colleagues, current employers, or previous employers as a part of the job search process.

 

Since Fall 2013, the EPCAMR Staff have been working to scan underground mine maps as part of the PA Department of Environmental Protection Mine Subsidence Insurance Program (PA DEP MSI). The 3 year project, which awarded EPCAMR approximately $340,000 in funding to process maps owned or controlled by the Commonwealth of PA, U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) or from private collections, will aid the public in determining whether or not it is necessary to purchase Mine Subsidence Insurance. The scanned maps will include information about the four Anthracite coal fields, with some of Earth Conservancy’s maps from their Blue Coal collection also being scanned. EPCAMR was the only regional non-profit to receive funding due to our expertise and knowledge of the Anthracite region. All other funding was awarded to universities and colleges. By the end of the project, EPCAMR will complete a total of 8000 maps, with 2000 from DEP’s Pottsville Bureau of Deep Mine Safety (DMS), 5000 DEP Wilkes-Barre Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR), 1000 maps from Earth Conservancy’s Blue Coal collection, unless some of the map numbers are reallocated due to underestimates within the State’s collections. In addition, EPCAMR will georeference 1000 maps from Pottsville District Mining Office (DMO) and 500 maps from Earth Conservancy’s Blue Coal, while digitizing 300 maps from Pottsville DMO, 500 maps from Wilkes-Barre BAMR, and 200 maps from Earth Conservancy’s Blue Coal. The total catalog of scanned maps will include 2000 maps from DEP’s Wilkes-Barre BAMR and 5000 mine images from DEP’s Mine Image Inventory.

 

Kelsey Biondo, who started as a Watershed Outreach Intern with EPCAMR in 2012, is one of our GIS Technicians, soon to be GIS Specialist working on the project. Bridgette Robinson, who joined EPCAMR in Fall 2013, was promoted from GIS Technician to GIS Specialist, however, will be moving on to full-time employment within the week and EPCAMR wishes her well. She was a very valuable asset to our EPCAMR Staff and the project.  The maps, which come in a variety of materials such as Mylar, Sepia, etc., are usually very wide and long, making them difficult to process using normal scanners. In order to mediate this issue, EPCAMR purchased two 56′ Color Trac Scanners in order to make the maps accessible by computer. Once the maps are scanned, they are uploaded into a system called PHUMMIS, which stands for Pennsylvania Historic Underground Mine Map Inventory System, where they are cropped and aligned. After this the images, which enter PHUMMIS as tagged image files, or TIF files, are converted to seamless image database files, or SID files. Converting the images to SID files allows for them to be compressed 20x smaller than their original size, making it easier for the files to be uploaded over the internet and used in other software programs, such as ArcGIS.

 

After the map files are converted, with the help of Michael Hewitt, EPCAMR Project Manager and Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, Staff will georeference the maps in order to align them with base maps and aerial photos. Georeferencing is a crucial part of the process because it ensures the greatest amount of accuracy for aligning the map with the actual land. Many of the maps are very old and hand-drawn, meaning that the map alone cannot serve as an accurate picture of where the mines are located. After the maps are georeferenced, Mike uploads the images and lines up the maps in order to look for specific features such as mine entrances, shaft length, depth, coverage area, and mine shaft elevation.  Determining these features allows for development of an accurate model of the underground mines. After features are determined, the plotted images are uploaded into geodatabase, the common spatial data storage and management framework for ArcGIS. If the elevation of the mine shaft can be determined, then a 3-D digital model of the mine can be produced.

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Michael Hewitt-EPCAMR Project Manager, Robert Hughes- EPCAMR Executive Director, John Welsh- Philadephia Photographer, Alana Mauger- Philadelphia journalist, David Svab- EPCAMR Intern, and Bill Best- President of Membership for the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, examine an underground mine map.

“The project’s main goal is to scan and upload cropped and plotted maps to the internet so that public users will have easy access to information about mining in this area. Although many of the visible signs of coal mining, such as collieries, breakers, and entrances to mine shafts, have disappeared from this area, the vast majority of the mines remain, leaving a massive web of coal veins beneath the region’s cities and homes. By processing these underground maps, EPCAMR, in collaboration with the PA DEP, will be able to provide current home owners and business owners with the knowledge they need to secure Mine Subsidence Insurance. In addition, making this information available will help inform prospective home and business owners about what’s located under the area they are planning on purchasing or building a house or office,”  explained EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes. “You’d be surprised at how many people in the region do not have Mine Subsidence Insurance and should!,” exclaimed Robert Hughes. If you have any additional maps from private collections, EPCAMR is looking for them to be scanned and added to the PHUMMIS digital catalog. Contact rhughes@epcamr.org to donate maps!

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This mine map measures 4.5×13 ft and that’s not even the largest EPCAMR has scanned!

 

EPCAMR Promotes David Svab, from Watershed Outreach Intern to Part-Time GIS Technician to work on Mine Subsidence Insurance Underground Anthracite Mine Mapping Project

With the recent departure of one of EPCAMR long-term Watershed Outreach Interns, Justyna Sacharzewska, who was recently promoted to GIS Specialist on a Part-Time basis, but has decided to move on to another GIS position elsewhere, EPCAMR has had to do some juggling in the Office. To reintroduce our supporters to David Svab, who was an EPCAMR Community Service Volunteer in the Summer 2013, and then became one of our Watershed Outreach Interns in the Fall of 2013, EPCAMR would like to refresh your memories with some information from an earlier news article published on our site. David calls Northeastern Pennsylvania his home, spending his entire life, except for the time spent at Penn State University, in the foothills of the Northern Anthracite Coal Fields.  He attended Coughlin High School in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, where he took a variety of course work to prepare him for an environmental career, not yet defined. While at Coughlin High School, he excelled in basketball, lettering three consecutive years, and was awarded the Andy Day Sportsman Award for his hard work, determination, and team effort. Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, mentioned, “It’s a small world, because, I met David’s father, who is also a Biology Teacher at Coughlin High School at another EPCAMR Event and we got to talking about volunteer opportunities with EPCAMR.  I was also the former Coughlin Freshmen Boy’s Jr. High Basketball Coach, under the tutelage of Coach Joe Caffrey, who was not only the Guidance Counselor for Coughlin High School, but was the Varsity Head Coach of David’s, and my Varsity Head Coach back in 1990 and 1991, when I was a Captain, during my junior and senior year at E.L. Meyers High School, also in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District. It’s a small world.”

David said, “Robert seems to know just about everybody in the Valley and that turned out to be good for me!”.

Being an avid lover of the outdoors and wildlife, yet not sure which career path to follow, he attended King’s College hoping to sort out his ambitions. There, he rediscovered his great love of the outdoors, and recognized that there was a need to preserve the beauty and transform our local landscapes back home, tarnished by the Anthracite Coal industry of years past. He decided then to attend Penn State University and seek a degree in Environmental Engineering and put his passions to work in order to preserve our natural environment, that can benefit all, while sustaining it for generations to come. Realizing the errors of the past, he was inspired to become an environmental engineer in order to contribute to the community he calls home, right back here in the Wyoming Valley, where EPCAMR has its home base, in the heart of the Anthracite Coal Region.

He graduated from Pennsylvania State University in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering. While at Penn State, he gained an understanding of the influence of industrial actions on the environment and the choice of cost effective remediation strategies. He also took classes focusing on water and waste water treatment and sampling and monitoring of the geo-environment. Through his educational experiences in the class, the lab, or field work, he has established the necessary foundation to build a career in the environmental engineering field. David is still in the process of taking tests to obtain his Engineering in Training License, before he can go on to become a Professional Engineer and take his Professional Engineering Exam.

At this time David is putting these skills to use what was for the most part, an unpaid Watershed Outreach Intern working part-time, for EPCAMR, under the direct supervision of the Executive Director, Robert E. Hughes.  He is a team spirited individual with a strong determination to solve problems in a cost efficient and effective manner. EPCAMR was able to secure some small stipends throughout his time with us on several projects including the monitoring of the Groasis Waterboxxes and Stream Restoration Projects, Illegal Dump Site Cleanups, Woody Debris removal projects, and riparian Stream-side plantings, in the Solomon Creek watershed.

“I knew that the EPCAMR internship would give me the experience needed to obtain a job in my field. Robert has already provided me with many networks, connections to other environmental professionals, and interactions with a multitude of organizations, industries, non-profits, State and Federal employees, and other reclamation-related partners that allowed me an opportunity to tell them who I am, what my interests are, and to have the ability to establish a professional rapport with people in my field of interest, to refine my technical skills with hands-on learning, outdoor field training. I’ve learned so much about abandoned mine drainage (AMD) remediation and abandoned mine reclamation in a relatively short period of time from many different aspects from Robert and his Staff, who are one of the most respected regional expert organizations on watershed restoration efforts in the Coal Region,” stated David enthusiastically.

Second day on the job as EPCAMR latest GIS Technican entering data into PA's Historic Underground Mine Mapping Inventory System (PHUMMIS)

David also had the opportunity as a Watershed Outreach Intern to learn how to read mine maps, shadow other Staff working on mine map scanning,  geo-referencing, and cataloging the data that EPCAMR is collecting for the Mine Subsidence Insurance Program into the PA Historic Underground Mine Mapping Inventory System (PHUMMIS) database. This previous familiarity and training from the EPCAMR Staff has allowed him to be given the chance to move from the Internship into a Part-Time GIS Technician position with EPCAMR starting on March 3, 2014 of this week. He’s in an introductory probationary period now for the next 90 days, but will have the opportunity to stick around with us for the next 2.5 years to complete our scope of work under the MSI Mine Map Grant. “Out of the Internship, and into the Fire!”, joked Robert. “He’ll be scanning, cropping, editing, and cataloging, several thousand mine maps for the majority of the time of his job. He’s fitting in just fine. Just goes to show you the VALUE of an unpaid internship early in his career. Others college students and recent graduates that have little experience, should follow in his footsteps.” suggested Robert.

EPCAMR works with Appalachian Coal Country Team on Waterboxx Research Initiative

EPCAMR was 1 of 3 Regional Reforestation Planting Projects selected for funding by the Appalachian Coal Country Team (ACCT). EPCAMR, with help from volunteers and Charlie Jones, who helped organize the project as part of his Eagle Scout project, has used the funds to plant 40 trees and incorporate 20 Groasis Waterboxx planters into the design and reclamation of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society’s Miner’s Memorial Park.

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Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, and Ray Clarke, HBPS Chairman and Treasurer, stand with Charlie Jones and other members of Troop #152 in front of the Huber Breaker and memorial at the Miner;s Memorial Park.

The Groasis Waterboxx, an AquaPro Holland product developed in 2009 as a way to grow trees and plants in desert environments, serves as an “intelligent water incubator” that captures water from the air through condensation and rain. Due to the design of the device, the condensation is produced and captured without using any energy. Installing a Waterboxx begins with digging a 4-6 inch hole that allows the Waterboxx to sit at the surface. After digging, the hole should be filled with 5 gallons of water to help restore soil capillary systems and allow for better water retention. At this point, the Waterboxx can be installed and is ready for planting, with an 8-shaped notch at the top providing space for plant growth while reducing evaporation.

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This diagram shows the interior of a Groasis Waterboxx. The Waterboxx allows water to be retained in its base, as shown in blue, which allows plants to grow in desert-like environments. The notch at the top, seen near the trunk of the tree, reduces evaporation.

The Huber Breaker Preservation Society‘s Miner’s Memorial Park is a great location to test and monitor the effectiveness of the Groasis Waterboxxes because of the high concentrations of culm and other coal waste in the soil. The culm acts similar to sand, allowing for little moisture retention, making it difficult for native plants to sustain life. The Waterboxxes, which are designed for environments with poor water retention, will help to solve this problem and allow for more variation in plant life on the Memorial Park property.

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Ray Clarke, HBPS Chairman and Treasurer, helping Troop #152 scouts dig a Waterboxx hole after hitting the Engine House Foundation.

After EPCAMR obtained the funds to begin the reforestation project at the Miner’s Memorial Park, Charlie Jones, an Eagle Scout candidate, decided to organize his Boy Scout Troop #152, Forty-Fort, to assist EPCAMR. On August 3, 2013, work began at the site with EPCAMR staff, Ray Clarke - Huber Breaker Preservation Society Chairman and Treasurer, and members of Troop #152. The day consisted of digging holes for the installation of Waterboxxes, mulching and tending to various shrubs that already been planted at the site, and planting four fruit trees: pear, peach, plum, and black cherry. After the end of the project, EPCAMR installed 20 Waterboxxes that will be monitored for water content and tree growth monthly as part of research for the Regional Reforestation Planting Project funded by the ACCT and Groasis.

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Troop #152 members install Waterboxx lids on top of the plum and pear trees at the Miner’s Memorial Park

The information will be valuable in determining the viability/value of using Waterboxxes. If they are deemed successful, as they have been over the last year, they will be included in other reforestation projects by EPCAMR.

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EPCAMR Intern- David Svab places a Groasis Waterboxx into its freshly dug hole at Espy Run.

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EPCAMR Executive Director- Robert Hughes plants a Groasis Waterboxx at Espy Run.

EPCAMR was again funded for a Phase II round of research funding and was provided with an additional 20 more Waterboxxes, of which 8 were planted at the Espy Run AMD Treatment Wetlands location, in Hanover Township in the Fall of 2013 by EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Intern David Svab and EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes, in partnership and with permission from the landowner, the Earth Conservancy. Due to the fast approaching Winter and a delay in getting the seedlings and trees delivered and in stock from the nursery that was used, EPCAMR will be continuing to plant an additional 12 Waterboxxes at the first sign of Spring.

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This photo shows the newly planted Waterboxxes next to the settling ponds at the Espy Run AMD Treatment Facility.

 

 

EPCAMR Collaborates with Mine Subsidence Insurance Program to Bring Underground Mine Maps to the Public

Since fall 2013, GIS technicians Kelsey Biondo and Bridgette Robinson have been working with EPCAMR to scan underground mine maps as part of the PA Department of Environmental Protection Mine Subsidence Insurance Program (PA DEP MSI). The 3 year project, which awarded EPCAMR approximately $340,000 in funding to process maps owned or controlled by the Commonwealth of PA, U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) or from private collections, will aid the public in determining whether or not it is necessary to purchase Mine Subsidence Insurance. The scanned maps will include information about the four Anthracite coal fields, with some of Earth Conservancy’s maps from their Blue Coal collection also being scanned. EPCAMR was the only regional non-profit to receive funding due to our expertise and knowledge of the Anthracite region. All other funding was awarded to universities and colleges. By the end of the project. EPCAMR will have completed a total of 8000 maps, with 2000 from DEP’s Pottsville Bureau of Deep Mine Safety (DMS), 5000 DEP Wilkes-Barre Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR), 1000 maps from Earth Conservancy’s Blue Coal collection. In addition, EPCAMR will georeference 1000 maps from Pottsville District Mining Office (DMO) and 500 maps from Earth Conservancy’s Blue Coal, while digitizing 300 maps from Pottsville DMO, 500 maps from Wilkes-Barre BAMR, and 200 maps from Earth Conservancy’s Blue Coal. The total catalog of scanned maps will include 2000 maps from DEP’s Wilkes-Barre BAMR and 5000 mine images from DEP’s Mine Image Inventory.

Kelsey Biondo working on the Bernice Mine Pool Study in EarthVision8

Kelsey Biondo, EPCAMR GIS Technician, examines scanned maps on her laptop.

Kelsey Biondo, who started as a Watershed Outreach Intern with EPCAMR in 2012, and Bridgette Robinson, who joined EPCAMR in Fall 2013, have since become valued GIS technicians and part time employee working on the PA DEP MSI Project. The maps, which come in a variety of materials such as Mylar, Sepia, etc., are usually very wide and long, making them difficult to process using normal scanners. In order to mediate this issue, EPCAMR purchased two 56′ Color Trac Scanners in order to make the maps accessible by computer. Once the maps are scanned, they are uploaded into a system called PHUMMIS, which stands for Pennsylvania Historic Underground Mine Map Inventory System, where they are cropped and aligned. After this the images, which enter PHUMMIS as tagged image files, or TIF files, are converted to seamless image database files, or SID files. Converting the images to SID files allows for them to be compressed 20x smaller than their original size, making it easier for the files to be uploaded over the internet and used in other software programs, such as ArcGIS.

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Bridgette Robinson, EPCAMR GIS Technician, stand with her beloved 56′ ColorTrac Scanner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the map files are converted, Bridgette and Kelsey, with the help of Michael Hewitt, EPCAMR Project Manager, georeference the maps in order to align them with base maps and aerial photos. Georeferencing is a crucial part of the process because it ensures the greatest amount of accuracy for aligning the map with the actual land. Many of the maps are very old and hand-drawn, meaning that the map alone cannot serve as an accurate picture of where the mines are located. After the maps are georeferenced, Mike uploads the images and lines up the maps in order to look for specific features such as mine entrances, shaft length, depth, coverage area, and mine shaft elevation.  Determining these features allows for development of an accurate model of the underground mines. After features are determined, the plotted images are uploaded into geodatabase, the common spatial data storage and management framework for ArcGIS. If the elevation of the mine shaft can be determined, then a 3-D digital model of the mine can be produced.

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Michael Hewitt-EPCAMR Project Manager, Robert Hughes- EPCAMR Executive Director, John Welsh- Philadephia Photographer, Alana Mauger- Philadelphia journalist, David Svab- EPCAMR Intern, and Bill Best- President of Membership for the Huber Breaker Preservation Society, examine an underground mine map.

“The project’s main goal is to scan and upload cropped and plotted maps to the internet so that public users will have easy access to information about mining in this area. Although many of the visible signs of coal mining, such as collieries, breakers, and entrances to mine shafts, have disappeared from this area, the vast majority of the mines remain, leaving a massive web of coal veins beneath the region’s cities and homes. By processing these underground maps, EPCAMR, in collaboration with the PA DEP, will be able to provide current home owners and business owners with the knowledge they need to secure Mine Subsidence Insurance. In addition, making this information available will help inform prospective home and business owners about what’s located under the area they are planning on purchasing or building a house or office,”  explained EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes. “You’d be surprised at how many people in the region do not have Mine Subsidence Insurance and should!,” exclaimed Robert Hughes. If you have any additional maps from private collections, EPCAMR is looking for them to be scanned and added to the PHUMMIS digital catalog. Contact rhughes@epcamr.org to donate maps!

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This mine map measures 4.5×13 ft and that’s not even the largest EPCAMR has scanned!

 

 

EPCAMR Adds Latest Mobile App to Reach Supporters

EPCAMR is adding the latest mobile app to our repertoire of online resources to provide instant and easy access to all of our latest News, Photos, Social Media links, Resource Links, Contact information, Staff Bios, Projects, and website Content all on the fly! It’s currently available for Apple iPhones at this time.

Below are the instructions to download and begin using the App.

1. Obtain the App’s address link (http://appcat.com/epcamr/)  via: Email, Text, Web link or

QR Code

 

2. Open web link in your device’s internet browser (iOS)

3A For Apple Products: In the iOS Safari web browser, hit add to “home screen”, the title of the link should be “EPCAMR”, hit the “Add” button. App should appear on your iOS device’s Home screen.

Thanks to a generous donation from our volunteer Community Development Coordinator-Frank Knorek, EPCAMR can now makes it’s way to all of our followers, supporters, and those who “like” us on FaceBook in the palm of their hands instantly. Maybe in the future, we’ll be able to add it to Windows and Adroid Phones. Enjoy the EPCAMR mobile App! EPCAMR is where it’s at, when it comes to cleaning up our polluted waterways from past mining practices! Join us! Follow us! Volunteer with us! Fund us!

EPCAMR Mobile App Phones Logo

EPCAMR Mobile App Phones Logo

EPCAMR Involves “Watershed” High School Program from around Luzerne County in Solomon Creek’s Nockley Tributary Clean-ups and Stream Restoration Project

From May to November of 2013, the EPCAMR Staff, led by Executive Director, Robert Hughes and Watershed Outreach Intern, David Svab, along with local community support from a multitude of High School students involved in the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (PA DCNR) “Watershed” Community Connections Environmental Education Program led by Nescopeck State Park’s Environmental Education Specialist (EES) and long time colleague of EPCAMR’s Diane Madl, Lackawanna State Forest District’s EES, Angela Lambert, and the help of regional partners and landowners, finished multiple projects to clean-up and restore tributaries to the Solomon Creek Watershed. Before EPCAMR staff and volunteers performed the clean-ups, the waterways and surrounding trails were littered with garbage, tires, and fallen tree branches and woody debris blockages, leaving Class A Trout Streams on the Federal List of Impaired Waters. EPCAMR’s goal is to successfully complete native brook trout habitat restoration and stream improvement projects that will be successes in the watershed without compromising the integrity of the existing ecosystem and have been working hard to implement best management practices on the landscapes that the are working in. EPCAMR also worked closely with Aaron Stredny, Luzerne Conservation District Watershed Specialist, who partnered with EPCAMR on a PA Association of Conservation District’s Mini-Grant for $2000 to purchase tree seedlings for riparian streamside plantings along the erosive banks on Nockley’s Tributary to Solomon Creek and to put in rock energy dissipation pools at the end of a few stormwater pipes that dump non-point source stormwater into the tributary. Aaron and Robert conducted a Non-Point Source Education Program at the site with the students prior to them assisting us with a cleanup and the planting of 125 tree seedlings. EPCAMR also provided the Luzerne Conservation District with a $500 donation from the ARIPPA  trade association of Co-Generation Power Producers towards the effort. Yet another $300 has been dedicated to the development of a future sign at the Nockley’s Tributary Stream Restoration Project location that was donated by the South Wilkes-Barre Mini-Football Program, in honor of Mr. Abe Coolbaugh, who passed away, and has a son, who coaches for the mini-football program who wanted to see the funds used towards some conservation practices where his Father fished. Mr. Coolbaugh was a local conservationist and avid fisherman. See http://epcamr.org/home/2013/epcamr-to-honor-abe-coolbaugh-with-stream-restoration-dedication-in-summer-2013-within-the-solomon-creek-watershed/?preview=true&preview_id=2509&preview_nonce=da452e7e4c Many of these sites are within the 2.6 miles of Class A Trout Streams in the watershed and in the area of the 1.84 miles of Sugar Notch Run that we are proposing to the Commonwealth of PA to be delisted. EPCAMR has followed up with the PA DEP Bureau of Conservation and Restoration to request that they have their Water Pollution Biologists come out for a follow-up field visit to warrant the delisting from the Federal List of Impaired Waters. EPCAMR has already followed up with the PA Fish & Boat Commission as well and were informed that at the time of our request for assistance, their Office and Staff were overwhelmed with projects dealing with the Marcellus Shale, that they were not able to provide us with much technical assistance on determining the correct types and best suited habitat structures for many of the project locations that we had initially selected, so some of those larger projects were put on the backburner for future evaluation when they had the time available to assist us in the field. Over the course of the year, EPCAMR gained funding through staff members contributing $7,757.20, volunteers and partners contributing an additional $12,625.50 in matching funds of  time and additional grants. EPCAMR was also able to secure an $8,000 grant from PA American Water.  This funding allowed EPCAMR to complete 15 successful projects, resulting in clean-ups and restorations of Sugar Notch Run and Nockley’s Tributary in the Solomon Creek Watershed. 5 Tons (10,000 pounds) of trash were removed. Several hundred tires were removed. Some vandals even decided to set one pile on fire leaving us with 84 tires less than anticipated to be removed, but a pile of rubber rubble to deal with on one occasion. EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes, emphasized, “We saved the taxpayers and citizens of Hanover Twp., the City of Wilkes-Barre, and the landowners ALOT of money through our hard earned grant writing efforts and coordination of our volunteers and students that we utilize and work with throughout Luzerne County. If every municipality had a grant writer that went after grants as aggressively as we do for the public good and with the success rate that we’ve  had, there wouldn’t be so many environmental problems in our communities and they’d save  a lot of money.”

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Taken at SGl #207, this photo shows a blockage of tires and other man-made debris near the old concrete dam just above the double-wide railroad tunnel.

Dumpster Full

Dumpster Full

At Sugar Notch Run, EPCAMR addressed degradation issues such as woody debris blockages, sedimentation, trash and tire dumping, deep undercuts in stream banks, and other man-made blockages. EPCAMR also did a clean-up at State Game Lands #207 at Sugar Notch Run, where they removed tarps, gas canisters, sleeping bags, tires, and other trash that was creating blockages in the stream and impacting the natural habitat. After the blockages were removed, EPCAMR made sure to stabilize the creek and make sure that it had maintained its natural habitat features.

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EPCAMR Staff cleaned out debris from this stream channel at Sugar Notch Run, outside of Carey’s Patch, locally called by the kids, “Dead End Creek”, and left the log and downed tree in place for habitat. Water can flow around it and down over a step pool just below the log that you can see looking upstream.

While the Sugar Notch Run clean-up was a success, EPCAMR spent the majority of the Summer and early Fall cleaning and restoring Nockley’s Tributary, named for the family that owns the land that the tributary runs along until it comes to its confluence with Solomon Creek, just northeast of S. Main Street in Wilkes-Barre. Dave, owns Nockley’s Pharmacy, located on S. Main Street (Middle Road, Hanover Twp.) and Frank runs Northeast Cartage Services, (on Fellows Ave, Hanover Twp.). Both gentlemen allowed us to access their property at any time to conduct the work and they also contributed deep discounts for dumpsters that we needed while conducting our cleanups. They both were very open to our projects and were familiar with EPCAMR’s Executive Director, since Dave had played High School basketball with him during their high school days at the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), Wilkes-Barre, where both of them were outstanding basketball players under the now retired Coach John Hopkins.  Midway through June, EPCAMR, through collaboration with PA American Water Staff including John Yamona-Water Quality Manager and Susan Turcmanovich-Manager, began work on Nockley’s Tributary. This area was heavily littered with trash, illegal dumping, heavy sedimentation, stormwater drainage issues from antiquated drains, streambank erosion, and woody debris blockages causing flooding issues at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and a day-care, located adjacent to the tributary.

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Volunteers help to clean debris in preparation for a riparian corridor tree planting along the banks of Nockley’s Tributary during the restoration and clean-up.

One of the major features completed at the site was a riparian corridor planted with 125 native trees and nursery stock wetland plants in order to enhance and improve the fish passage and stream habitat that runs 2,640 feet from Nockley’s Tributary to Solomon Creek. Riparian corridors help to restore and improve stream habitat because they allow for native plants to help filter and trap sediment, preventing stream erosion and allowing for better water flow. EPCAMR staff along with the assistance of volunteers, David Svab- Watershed Outreach Intern, and Aaron Stredny-Watershed Specialist for the Luzerne Conservation District, completed the project over a period of 7 months.

Dawson Hughes (in orange) , EPCAMR Stream Cleanup Volunteer and oldest son of the Executive DIrector, who has been helping out since he was 8 years old and is now going on 14

Dawson Hughes (in orange) , EPCAMR Stream Cleanup Volunteer and oldest son of the Executive DIrector, who has been helping out since he was 8 years old and is now going on 14 with Wilkes University Colonels volunteers at a cleanup on Nockley’s Tributary.

EPCAMR knew that as we got further down in the watershed, the environmental degradation issues become more problematic and costly and will warrant much further details, investigations, surveys, and designs for future improvements. Woody debris provides many benefits to the stream ecosystem, but individual debris jams that we have investigated increased erosion or endangered roadways, bridges and personal property. In these cases, it was necessary to remove all of the jam to alleviate the problems. Removal decisions of the woody debris areas were subjective and were made individually, ultimately removing or altering only what is necessary. In the more forested areas, such structures remained intact to continually shape and change a stream channel as a natural process without interference.

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Watershed Specialist, Aaron Stredny, speaks to PA DCNR’s “Watershed” Education Program High School students from across Luzerne County who planted 125 trees along the banks of Nockley’s Tributary in the Fall 2013.

EPCAMR believes that the improvements they have accomplished so far will lead to further protection of the native brook trout population , as well as other warm water fisheries in the lower reaches of the watershed. Over time, the number of fish and aquatic life present in the watershed could possibly increase as a result of addressing areas with degradation issues. As of November 2013, EPCAMR still has funds available to continue to clean and restore the Solomon Creek Watershed. During Spring and Summer of 2014, EPCAMR Staff plans to monitor and evaluate the completed projects while continuing to work on projects that will result in cleaner water and streams, improved stream and riparian corridor habitat, stream bank stabilization, and a reduction in sediment loads and trash to the Solomon Creek watershed. EPCAMR knows how to create partnerships! See the list for these successful projects completed below: Nockley’s Pharmacy-landowner access Earth Conservancy-landowner access PA Game Commission-landowner access Northeast Cartage Services-landowner access and discounted pricing on hauling, dumpster roll-offs, and waste removal Mahantongo Scrap Tire Recycling, Liverpool, PA- removal and recycling of scrap tires, discount on hauling and price per tire for removal St. Peter’s Lutheran Church-landowner access, free parking, use of open space area for lunch breaks for EPCAMR Volunteers and students, use of restroom facilities, volunteer assistance from their Board of Trustees in removal and cutting of downed trees across Nockley’s Tributary, removal of brush piles Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority-inspection of sewer main at the confluence of Nockley’s Tributary before entering Solomon Creek Stanley Cooper Chapter of Trout Unlimited-provided volunteers (2) who assisted on July 1, 2013, with illegal dumping and tire removal from Nockley’s Tributary, served as a media outlet to their members to recruit additional volunteers to assist with the EPCAMR stream restoration projects Luzerne Conservation District-provided technical expertise and Staff to coordinate the stream restoration projects within the Solomon Creek Watershed with EPCAMR, secured additional funding and was awarded funding by EPCAMR towards projects, worked with EPCAMR on cleanup days, woody debris removal field events, tree plantings, and tire removal events; Chapter 102 review, Chapter 105 review, coordination with PA DEP PACD, Inc.-provided $2,000 funding towards the riparian tree plantings on Nockley’s Tributary and educational and outreach program on non-point source pollution and stream restoration ARIPPA-provided EPCAMR with $500 in funding that was awarded to the Luzerne Conservation District through our mini-grant program to purchase stone for energy dissipaters to be placed below antiquated stormwater culverts that are directed towards Nockley’s Tributary PA DCNR-Environmental Education Specialists coordinated a tree planting event with EPCAMR and the LCD with (40) students from different high schools within the Wyoming Valley and Hazleton Area on October 17, 2013 City of Wilkes-Barre, Ashley Borough, and Hanover Township-supportive of our efforts within the Solomon Creek Watershed to implement recommendations with funding that was not from the local taxpayers and assisted with prioritizing future cleanup efforts within the watershed within their municipalities PA  DEP, Wilkes-Barre Regional Office-provided EPCAMR and the LCD on guidance as to the need for any necessary permits for our projects Wilkes University-(36) Freshman College students participated in a coordinated stream-side cleanup and tire removal event on July 15, 2013; Coordinated with Megan Boone Valkenburg, Civic Engagement Coordinator; They were unable to make the July 1, 2013 event due to rain and bus scheduling EPCAMR Community Service Volunteers-(11) total participated in the cleanups on July 1, and July 15, 2013 that were registered through American Rivers (www.AmericanRivers.org/Cleanup) Nanticoke Junior Trojans Youth Football Program Players- 11, 12, & 13 year old football players (7 of them) and Jill Williams, mother of one of the players, volunteered on the September 21st, 2013 cleanup event that was coordinated with Michelle Dunn from Keep PA Beautiful in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup South Wilkes-Barre Mini-Football Program-provided a $300 donation towards our restoration efforts in honor of a local conservationist and avid fisherman, Mr. Abe Coolbaugh, who passed away, and has a son, who coaches for the mini-football program who wanted to see the funds used towards some conservation practices where his Father fished Keep PA Beautiful-provided EPCAMR with publicity, garbage bags, and gloves; (www.KeepPABeautiful.org) International Coastal Cleanup and Ocean Conservancy-provided outreach and publicity on their website for volunteer recruitment of our cleanup events and garbage bags and gloves to our PA registered cleanup events through Keep PA Beautiful ( http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/international-coastal-cleanup/ ) American Rivers-provided EPCAMR with trash bags and outreach and publicity on their website for volunteer recruitment and provided EPCAMR with a free year long membership for registering our cleanups for the 2013 National River Cleanup participation ( www.americanrivers.org ) EPCAMR promoted our project through our Social Media Page on FaceBook (Search EPCAMR) and created events along with notifications to our volunteer base to come out and assist with our local projects. EPCAMR coordinated with Wilkes University, Stanley Cooper Chapter Trout Unlimited, Nanticoke Junior Trojans Youth Football Program, and the PA DCNR to create events that a large group of students could attend to assist us with as well.

EPCAMR received media coverage from Ch. 16-WNEP when we coordinated our second cleanup on July 15, 2013. (http://wnep.com/2013/07/15/getting-dirty-to-clean-up-the-creek/) PA American Water provided a news release on their website about the project and others that were funded:

PACD prepared an article on the projects that they funded state-wide, including the one for the Luzerne Conservation District, in partnership with EPCAMR:

Brendan Gibbons, Environmental Beat Reporter for the Scranton Times-Tribune and the Citizen’s Voice covered a story for the newspaper on our project and also participated in a cleanup as a volunteer. Article is below:

  • http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/timesshamrock/doc/1399978542.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Jul+15%2C+2013&author=&pub=Citizens%27+Voice&edition=&startpage=&desc=Water+Quality+Projects+Are+Worthy+Endeavours  (archived article-costs $$)

Tom Venesky, Outdoors Writer with the Times-Leader Newspaper, prepared an article on our work in the Solomon Creek Watershed:

These projects were the first of its kind in the Solomon Creek, particularly in the native brook trout fishery headwaters and tributaries of the watershed.  EPCAMR will make periodic trips to the sites once completed to check on the long-term stability of the structures installed and constructed. EPCAMR will seek the support of avid people who fish in the area to report back on how the structures are holding up and if the areas are remaining free of debris, storm flow debris, tires, illegal dumping, trash, and sedimentation. EPCAMR will advise private landowners to check on the areas worked on periodically to report back to EPCAMR, however, should additional work or maintenance be needed, the financial burden would have to fall on the landowner. If areas are determined to be private, EPCAMR will work with the landowners to see if visitation to the project sites can be made open to the public use through a conservation easement, right-of-way access agreement, or hold-harmless agreement. EPCAMR has a well-established partnership with the Stanley Cooper Chapter of Trout Unlimited in the Wyoming Valley, whose members are always willing to assist private landowners with improvement their property, including fish habitat and restoration work.

EPCAMR Continues Monitoring of Espy Run AMD Treatment System for the Earth Conservancy in the Nanticoke Creek Watershed

EPCAMR was contracted by the Earth Conservancy to monitor the Espy Run AMD Treatment System after rehabilitation and improvements were made  in 2011 to allow additional iron to drop out by increasing the size of the polishing ponds in the aerobic wetlands system. EPCAMR assisted the Earth Conservancy in securing free technical assistance for design and engineering of the system through a PA Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. Technical Assistance Grant (PACD TAG), designed by John Coleman, who was an Engineer, contracted by PACD, who worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Bloomsburg Office.   From Summer 2012-Summer 2013, EPCAMR completed 4 services in order to assess and predict the long term performance and ongoing treatment of the AMD wetlands treatment system.

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The source of the AMD discharge feeding in to the Espy Run is located near the tree branch sticking out of the water on the right side of the photo.

EPCAMR completed AMD water quality and water flow monitoring of the Espy Run AMD Treatment System from August 2012-August 2013 in order to determine loading of iron, alkalinity, pH, acidity, and temperature at the Espy Run influent sites (old wetland,  new channel, new pipe), 3 points within the treatment system (Pond A, Pond B, Wetland), the Espy Run effluent, and downstream of the Espy Run combined AMD Treatment Systems. After completing the year long testing period, EPCAMR completed a final report detailing all of the data gathered on water flow and water quality. EPCAMR’s work on this project, in collaboration with the Earth Conservancy  allows them access to this area for educational outreach programs with local school districts in order to provide insight into AMD treatment systems, how to improve water quality through different water treatment technologies, and incorporate PA’s Department of Education’s Environment and Ecology Environmental Education Standards that compliment the various schools existing curriculum.

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Weir #3 and Weir #4 on the outlet side of Espy Run before rehabilitation. As can be seen by the lack of flow and build-up of leaf debris, some maintenance was needed to get both weirs fully functioning again.

In 2011, after the Espy Run was rehabilitated, the average flow from the system was 521 gpm. With this flow, the system was able to remove 303 pounds per day of acidity while retaining 91.7 pounds of iron per day and thereby removing it from the stream. During the 2012 monitoring period, EPCAMR found that the average rate of flow from the system was 215 gpm, allowing the system to remove 162 pounds per day of acidity while retaining 18.8 pounds  of iron per day.

These numbers show a dramatic contrast between the 2011 assessment period and the 2012 assessment period. While these differences seem to point to a lack of effectiveness within the system, a number of factors led to these findings. 2011 was a year with above average precipitation while 2012 was a dry year with lower than average rainfall. The dramatic differences in rainfall greatly influenced the amount of flow within the system. In addition, treatment systems like the Espy Run system generally experience a “Honeymoon Period” in which the system performs better than expected. Treatment efficiency is related directly to flow and the eventual loadings of the iron, alkalinity, and acidity of the mine water.

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V-notch weir post-construction spilling out cleaner water! The iron has been reduced by 90%, the pH and dissolved oxygen have been increased, as a slight increase in water temperature.

In order to help improve water residency time within the system, reduce short-circuiting  of the mine water, and optimize iron loading retention, the Earth Conservancy, through funding from a Quick Response Grant administered by our sister Coalition, the Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (WPCAMR), applied further modifications to the system.  One of these modifications included sandbagging the inlet half-pipe channel to direct water into Pond B only. The outlet from Pond B was sandbagged, with Ponds A & B connected by a pipe allowing for flow from one to the other, leaving both ponds with a common outlet channel. In addition, a bridge was constructed over the outlet channel so that access to the old wetland system would be easier.

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The bridge, shown going over the water in the rehabilitated Espy Run treatment system. The water, coming out of Ponds A & B in the system, is much clearer with a reduced orange color, indicating lower iron levels and cleaner water.

In order to redirect short-circuiting water issues a concrete Jersey Barrier was installed at the inlet to the old wetland system. Lastly, the weirs were lowered on the outlet of the old wetlands to lower water levels so that wetland vegetation had more surface area to grow. Cattails, phragmites, and several other wetland species of plants normally do not grow well in water at a depth of 18″ or greater. These modification proved to be successful, allowing for an additional 6 pounds per day of iron and neutralization of an additional 22 pounds per day of acidity. After gathering data on chemistry and flow, EPCAMR determined that optimal treatment levels are reached between 150-300 gpm. Flows lower than 150 gpm were not recorded during the assessment period, but if these low flow levels were to occur, they could cause detrimental chemical reactions in addition to allowing for excessive plant growth. On the other hand, if flows reach above 300 gpm, they can cause damage to the system. EPCAMR did not record flows at this level, but observation of damaged berms within the system indicated that water flow had been extremely high at some points during the assessment period.

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EPCAMR staff member, Justyna, samples water from the raw water inflow to the settling ponds.

During the assessment period, EPCAMR made some additional observations that allowed for a better understanding of the effectiveness of the treatment system. Weather conditions had a significant impact on results. The greater precipitation, the more water trapped in the minepool, thus the greater the flow of AMD discharge into the treatment system. Higher flow, as mentioned above, can cause potentially cause damage to the system. EPCAMR observed that lowering the weirs in order to restrict water levels allows for mediation of this problem. In addition, warm weather conditions appear to create downstream “thermal pollution” on the cold water pouring out of the discharge, raising the temperature in ponds and wetlands 20 degrees fahrenheit or more. While this is an issue often associated with wetland type passive treatment systems, the beneficial removal of acid and heavy metal deposits is a worthwhile trade-off. On the other hand, cold weather conditions tend to slow down chemical reactions, hindering the removal of iron and neutralization of acids. During some of the winter sampling periods, Pond A suffered from periodic freezing due to the half-pipe’s “uneven” distribution. Modification of the system helped to remedy this issue.

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Panoramic view of Pond B (left) & Pond A (right) showing the flow through pipe. Notice the brighter orange color of Pond B, indicating that more iron is settling out.

Although biological sampling and visual habitat were not a part of their services, EPCAMR noted evidence affirming that wildlife is inhabiting the treatment system. Frogs were croaking and jumping as EPCAMR staff walked across the berms, and tadpoles were seen in the spring to early summer along the outlet channels. Turtles were seen sunning themselves on the banks. Redwing Blackbirds and other bird species co-habitated throughout the area. A mother goose built her nest among the thick wetland plants and was often seen chasing EPCAMR staff around the wetlands a they gathered water samples. 

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This baby Wood Turtle was seen sunning himself on the banks of the treatment system. His orange color is not from iron oxide, but shows his natural coloring. This little guy is a good sign!

Deer and turkeys were often seen roaming the fields above the ponds and wetlands. Pond A was teeming with schools of minnows. Beavers and muskrats were trapped out of the system so that they could not cause damage, but the beaver dam located near the USGS gauging station redirected the water over the weir, allowing for the system to work as it was originally intended to flow.

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Taken downstream near the USGS gas station, this photo shows the beaver dam. This dam actually redirects the majority of flow back over the wier, The water here is cloudy, but the orange color is mostly gone, indicating that there is less iron in the stream.

EPCAMR’s year long assessment period showed that the Espy Run AMD Treatment Facility was largely successful at treating iron oxide deposits located in the stream. As of August 2013, the last assessment month for EPCAMR, the iron concentration coming into the treatment system was 10 Mg/L. As shown in the below left graph, after treatment, the iron concentration coming out of the system was approximately 32 Mg/L. As shown in the below right graph, as of August 2013, the iron load held within the system was approximately 22 lbs/day when the flow was around 225 gal/min. These figures show that after modification, the system was able to treat water at higher flows than was previously recorded.

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While recorded data shows that they system was effective at treating iron oxide deposits and acidity within the water, visual assessment made it clear to any observer that the treatment system was helpful in reducing pollution within the water. The water leaving the treatment system was still cloudy, but lacked the bright orange pigment, indicating that the system was effective at removing a lot of acidity and iron oxide. Other indicators, such as visual observation of wildlife show that the wetland is able to be inhabited rather than remaining a biological deadzone as it had been prior to treatment. An increased number of fish species were found to be present downstream of the treatment system such as smallmouth bass, creek chubs, black-nose dace, blue-gills, and shiners.  EPCAMR will be continuing to monitor the system for the Earth Conservancy on a quarterly basis through the Fall of 2014.

EPCAMR has great success with Originally Designed, One-of-a-Kind Solar Powered Kiln for Iron Oxide Processing

The EPCAMR Staff are innovators when it comes to ways to create innovative and creative ways to use iron oxide that allow it to be viewed as unique and useful rather than just as a pollutant in abandoned mine drainage (AMD) that pollutes many of our regional rivers and streams. By taking iron oxide out of streams and reusing it, EPCAMR has found many ways to recycle something that would normally remain in the water systems, creating biological dead zones until the mines are completely devoid of heavy metal deposits – a problem that would take decades, probably even centuries, to completely cease naturally. This story is one of may that is long overdue and thanks to our Community Relations Intern, Gabby Zawacki, we’re finally being able to play catch up and report on all the great stories and projects that we’ve been up to over the last few seasons. It’s very difficult to write stories and manage all the projects at the same time. “I’m just very happy that we have Gabby here with her background in Literary Arts and her phenomenal writing skills to put together the stories that we’ve always wanted to tell, but just don’t have as much time as we would like to tell the whole story. Now, at least for the entire Spring Semester, through mid-May, Gabby is going to be able to do that for EPCAMR”,  Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, enthusiastically stated. As of May 2012, EPCAMR, through a partnership between Wilkes-Barre Area School District and funding from PPL, was able to finish construction on a project that allows them to take their environmentally friendly iron oxide reclamation to the next level: Completion of the first ever constructed Mobile Solar Kiln for drying AMD to be used for demonstrations and environmental education programs in many of the underserved elementary schools within the City of Wilkes-Barre.

Swampy and the Limestone Cowboy with the solar kiln

Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, and Michael Hewitt, EPCAMR Program Manager, stand with the Mobile Solar Kiln for processing AMD before off-loading it at Plains-Solomon Elementary School.

The Mobile Solar Kiln for processing AMD, which grew out of a desire by Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director to get “off the grid” became a reality when PPL and the W-B Area School District decided to partner with EPCAMR in order to make the project a reality upon being awarded a $2000 grant written by EPCAMR. EPCAMR worked with Mike Corcoran, Science Coordinator to partner on the grant. Alana Malar Roberts, who at the time was PPL’s Community Outreach Coordinator, was also integral in providing us with public relations on the project and assisted us with coming out and seeing the kids work with us on the project. Mike happened to be a former Assistant Coach of Robert’s when he was in Jr. High School at the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.).

Students gather with PPL, EPCAMR, and W-B Area School District at Leo E. Solomon Plains to receive the grant check.

Students gather with PPL, EPCAMR, and W-B Area School District at Leo E. Solomon Plains to receive the grant check.

Spring 2012 EPCAMR interns Dan Gilbert, Ryan Lawrence, and Zach Yodis, all from King’s College, helped Robert Hughes, Executive Director, and Michael Hewitt, Program Manager, complete the construction of the project.

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Interns Dan Gilbert, Zach Yodis, and Ryan Lawrence helping Michael Hewitt, EPCAMR Program Manager, construct the wooden frame for the Mobile Solar Kiln for processing AMD.

Construction of the kiln consisted of creating the solar collector and kiln oven. The solar collector apparatus, made of PVC pipes and three solar panels, is capable of collecting 45 watts of power, which powers a recycled computer cooling fan that can be automatically turned on should the temperature get too hot inside of the kiln or if excess moisture was to build up on the recycled single-pane windows.

EPCAMR Staff laying out the  components of the 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit

EPCAMR Staff laying out the components of the 45 Watt Solar Panel Kit

 

The old coal home windows  that were also used as  a part of the construction came from the Executive Director’s first home where he had replaced his windows with more energy efficient windows. The solar panel unit sends the excess electrical power that is generated back to a motorcycle battery for storage when the cooling fan is not in use or turned on. EPCAMR has been able to reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit on a day when it was 95 degrees outside.

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The completed solar collector beginning to capture its first rays of sunshine before being connected to the battery backup unit!

The kiln oven was constructed out of standard pressure treated 2″ x 4″ wood and recycled single-paned storm windows. The windows serve a dual purpose. By allowing extra sunlight into the kiln, the windows allow the kiln to generate extra heat than just using the solar collector alone. In addition, the windows allow anyone using the kiln to watch the iron oxide reclamation process at work as it begins to dry the pigment and decant the water moisture, making it an awesome visual feature for projects with local school districts. After the wooden frame was painted a powder coat black, which helped the system to absorb the additional heat much like culm does on an abandoned coal bank, it was assembled , complete with wheels to make it mobile, and the windows were installed, leaving the solar kiln ready to be stained in a polyurethane mixture with EPCAMR’s signature iron oxide pigment color: Yellow Boy Orange.

EPCAMR's Solar Kiln getting painted in the black powder coat prior to putting on the Yellow Boy iron oxide stain on the outside panels

EPCAMR’s Solar Kiln getting painted in the black powder coat prior to putting on the Yellow Boy iron oxide stain on the outside panels

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The completed Solar Kiln, painted, stained, and filled with iron oxide for drying.

The EPCAMR Solar Kiln, completed almost 2 years ago, has been a great success in allowing EPCAMR to reclaim iron oxide “off the grid.” The kiln, which can reach upwards of 200 degrees is more than capable of effectively heating and drying iron oxide that EPCAMR uses in its AMD Tie-Dye Workshops, AMD Chalk Talks and Art Projects, and coming soon: AMD Pottery workshops. In addition, the kiln is a great way to get local school districts excited about “off the grid” energy options. When the kiln was first completed, EPCAMR traveled to the Leo E. Solomon-Plains Elementary School to work with the entire 5th and 6th grade students (230) and to teach then about AMD and the ways iron oxide can be used.

The students completed an AMD Tie-Dye workshop using recovered iron oxide from the Solar Kiln. The day was filled with fun art projects and lots of education about AMD and the ways it can be reused. The students also assisted EPCAMR with painting their own Solar Kiln that was a second smaller kiln constructed by the EPCAMR Staff in the Spring of 2013 that was left for the students to use year round.

Leo E. Solomon-Plains 6th Grade Elementary Students painting one of the Solar Kiln doors.

Leo E. Solomon-Plains 6th Grade Elementary Students painting one of the Solar Kiln doors.

The students made the AMD Tie-Dye t-shirts that were worn on their 6th grade field trip to the Smithsonian Institute and other places around the Philadelphia area at the end of the school year and for the last two years, have been the topic of conversation when they go. It has become an annual tradition to use the Solar Kiln to make their t-shirts now. EPCAMR still has enough material to make a third Solar Kiln and will be donating it to the Heights Elementary school, once the organization can dedicate enough staff and internship time to completely build the third kiln. Heights Elementary is the alma mater of Robert Hughes, EPCAMR’s Executive Director.

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Students at Leo E. Solomon/Plains Elementary School hang their AMD Tie-Dye t-shirts up to dry. Students used iron oxide from the Solar Kiln to create their annual 6th grade field trip t-shirts.

Another element that we added to the environmental education program that we held at Leo E. Solomon-Plains Elementary was the construction of a solar-powered race car exhibition by Ann Devine, Environmental Education Coordinator for the PA Department of Environmental Protection. The students enjoyed creating the miniature race cars with rubber bands, balsam wood, and a 2″ square solar cell, batteries, and of course, wheels.

Ann Devine-PA DEP EE Coordinator working with students to help them build their solar powered race cars.

Ann Devine-PA DEP EE Coordinator working with students to help them build their solar powered race cars.

Robert emphasized, “The solar kilns, and the projects that can be completed with it, allow students to directly interact with their environment and allows us to showcase the innovative ways in which we are cleaning up our surrounding watersheds. Getting the younger generation interested and involved is the first step towards creating a lasting impact on their desire to learn about AMD, how it can be remedied, and how the iron oxide collected can be used in useful and innovative ways. So far, the solar kilns have been a great way to achieve this! EPCAMR intends to bring our Mobile Solar Kiln to other school districts and events going forward in 2014. We get a lot of mileage out of it’s use nowadays because we can basically bake 8 cake trays full of iron oxide in one day, when a few years ago, we started with cake pans that were the size of the pans that went into an Easy Bake Oven. We look forward to building our third solar kiln this Summer and getting up to Heights Elementary in the City of Wilkes-Barre. Students will be able to explain solar energy to their teachers and the EPCAMR Staff. Students will be able to recognize and know three types of abandoned mine pollution impacts to the Susquehanna River. Students will be able to speak on recycled uses for EPCAMR’s iron oxide collected from the AMD Treatment Systems and AMD Discharges. Students will be able to locate and know what the names of their local streams. Teachers will be able to inform EPCAMR of the times that they will be able to incorporate any reference materials and curriculum materials into their school curriculum. Students will learn about Anthracite Geology and three types of rocks common to the Wyoming Valley and three types of metals that commonly are contained in AMD. These are all learning objectives that we hope to instill into the youth in our area.

Leo E. Solomon-Plains students on an AMD Field Tour to Newport Township's Lake of AMD,  called Loch Mess.

Leo E. Solomon-Plains students on an AMD Field Tour to Newport Township’s Lake of AMD, called Loch Mess on a hot humid Summer Day.

I can’t wait to go back to my old elementary school to work with the kids in the classrooms that I haven’t been back to since the late 70′s and mid-80′s. I’m anticipating the build and the visits to work with the kids and teachers, many of which, are close friends of mine who teach and were former students of the school themselves at the same time that I was a student there. A straight A student, I might add. Check out Channel 16′s Power to Save video that was filmed with the students who did an excellent job of reporting on what they had learned during the project and were excited to talk about. http://wnep.com/2013/05/09/students-turning-waste-and-pollution-into-art/

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