Environmental Good Samaritan Legislation and Funding

Two bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week, related to “Environmental Good Samaritan Legislation”:

H.R. 3843 (Rep. Doug Lamborn), To authorize for a 7-year period of the collection of claim location and maintenance fees, and for other purposes; Also known as the ‘‘Locatable Minerals Claim Location and Maintenance Fees Act of 2015.’’


H.R. 3844 (Rep. Jody Hice), To establish the Energy and Minerals Reclamation Foundation to encourage, obtain, and use gifts, devises, and bequests for projects to reclaim abandoned mine lands and orphaned oil and gas well sites, and for other purposes; Also known as the “Energy and Minerals Reclamation Foundation Establishment Act of 2015.”

The first bill establishes a division between active vs. inactive and abandoned non-coal mine lands, then sets up a program to deal with the Abandoned Non-coal Mine Lands within the Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. This authority is similar to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1972, established for coal mines. Lastly, a permitting authority may issue a permit to a Good Samaritan to carry out cleanup of an abandoned mine land (coal or non-coal), which would exempt them from strict Clean Water Act policies. The term Good Samaritan is defined as “any person that did not participate in any way in the creation of, or activities that caused, any historic mine residue at the inactive or abandoned mine site.”

The second bill is more concerning, however. It establishes a foundation to manage federally and privately matched dollars to help clean up abandoned mine lands and orphaned gas wells, touted as being similar to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). While at initial glance the legislation to establish a foundation for this purpose seems worthwhile, there are some special powers that it lends and special interests that it seems to serve. When delving into the details, the foundation seems less and less like NFWF. For instance, a board member for this foundation must be “educated or have experience in energy or minerals production and reclamation of mine lands or oil and gas fields; or energy and mineral resource financing, law, or research.” This qualification seems to leave out citizen involvement and bears heavily on industry experience. However, the initial board would be determined by the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, both are coalitions of mining state governors and their staff that deal with mineral resources. This affiliation seems to be a positive. A controversial part of the bill is the Acquisition of Real Property and Exemption from Condemnation, which could be seen as an encroachment on state and local government rights. Lastly, the pots of federal money to be allocated are a few million dollars. In Pennsylvania alone, abandoned mine lands are a 15 billion dollar problem. This proposed foundation would serve a national arena of abandoned mine lands and will need a heavy influx of private donations for the program to be successful.

Please see the related article from NPR that talks about the impetus of this legislation, which swirls around the Animas River spill that occurred only a few month ago. In this news clip, a legislator warns, “these so-called Good Samaritan waivers – unless they are very carefully crafted – are not the solution.” They are controversial indeed, but have some merit. We understand legislators are willing to hear comments and make the appropriate changes.

EPCAMR is continuing to review each piece of legislation carefully and plans to comment. We would encourage you to share your comments as well. The comment period for both bills will open November 4th and the window should extend into early December.

EPCAMR Awards $2,500 in ARIPPA Mini-grants to 3 Community Partners throughout the Region

On August 19th, EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes, traveled to the Harrisburg area to speak at the Annual ARIPPA Technical Convention about the mini-grant awards to be allocated in the Fall of 2015, thanks to the ARIPPA donation of $2,500 to both EPCAMR and WPCAMR in support of our collective work with community partners in reclamation across Pennsylvania.

Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director receives the $5000 check donation on behalf of EPCAMR/WPCAMR.

Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, receives the $5,000 donation on behalf of EPCAMR & WPCAMR

In the past, applications were submitted for AMD projects, educational efforts, outreach and awareness programs, operation and maintenance of AMD treatment systems, and educational signage, among others. These projects help the AMD impacted watersheds. All applicants support ARIPPA and their mission to remove waste coal piles in our communities, convert it into renewable energy, and reuse the coal ash at mine reclamation sites. The groups awarded funding maintain diverse partnerships and secure various funding sources to complete projects with EPCAMR and WPCAMR. All of the applicants want clean water, an improved environment, and a better quality of life for their communities and the fisheries they are working to protect across Pennsylvania.

In Eastern Pennsylvania, EPCAMR awarded three projects for the year of 2015. First is the Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association (MCWA), who will be receiving $800 to cover the cost of 50 tons of high calcium carbonate limestone sand needed to treat the acidic conditions of the south branch of Mehoopany Creek, which is not only impacted by AMD, but also acid rain deposition in the headwaters.

Limestone sand pile

Askam AMD Treatment System

Second is the Earth Conservancy (EC), who will be receiving $1,200 to design and build a wayside environmental education exhibit for the Askam AMD Borehole Maelstrom Oxidizer Treatment System, located in Hanover Township, along Nanticoke Creek. EC will partner with students and teachers from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District to create several points of interest and design elements at the AMD treatment site to be used by students throughout the Wyoming Valley that take tours provided by EPCAMR and EC. The students will tour the site, while learning about the AMD treatment system, mine pools, abandoned mine land reclamation, wetlands, wildlife habitat. They will then design the content and locations of the exhibits.

Third, and finally, is the McGlynn Learning Center, who will be awarded $500 to partner with Home Depot to build bluebird boxes for abandoned mine lands and AMD sites throughout the Wyoming Valley, as well as for their own community housing developments.

Bluebird box

Bluebird box

McGlynn Learning Center youth

The funds will be used for transportation, supplies, and the creation of EPCAMR’s iron oxide wood stain to paint some of the bird boxes, while others will be painted. These bluebird boxes are being donated by Home Depot and will be used to allow for increased wildlife habitat and diversity of bird populations within their complexes and out on some of the AMD sites that will be visited by the students. The McGlynn Learning Center has been serving vulnerable children since 1988. The Center provides after-school funding for tutoring, recreational, and cultural activities at no cost to the children or families that live within the low-income housing town homes. EPCAMR has a long history of supporting the Center that goes back nearly two decades.

Remediation projects are costly and long-term endeavors, with costs averaging between $10-20,000 per acre, according to the Pennsylvania Mining Reclamation Advisory Board. The ARIPPA Reclamation Awards are designed to help watershed groups continue their volunteer efforts toward improving our environment.

Organized in 1989, ARIPPA is a non-profit trade association representing alternative energy plants that remove coal refuse from AML areas, convert it into alternative energy, and use the ash byproduct to reclaim thousands of acres of mine-scarred lands and hundreds of miles of formerly dead streams, without any expenditure of tax dollars. To date, over 212 million tons of coal refuse has been converted into alternative energy by member plants. ARIPPA uses Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) technology, one of the cleanest methods available today.

The unique nature of ARIPPA’s environmental efforts, combined with the desire to coordinate these efforts with “hands-on” environmentally-oriented groups and governmental agencies, symbolizes its commitment to improving the nation’s landscape and environment. Updates and further information on the “coal refuse to alternative energy” industry can be found by using the links below.

Website:                             www.arippa.org

LinkedIn:                            www.linkedin.com/ARIPPA.org

Facebook:                          www.facebook.com/ARIPPA.org

Twitter:                               www.twitter.com/ARIPPAORG

YouTube:                             www.youtube.com/user/environmentalrenewal

EPCAMR Interns create “Macros on Ice” to compliment EPCAMR Environmental Education Programs

Watershed Outreach Interns, Mallory Pinkowksi and Haley Giannone, are creating an updated collection of macro invertebrates for the EPCAMR “Peek-A-Bug” collection. This collection has been used in our outdoor environmental education programs for the last 12 years. They were originally collected and preserved by former Watershed Outreach Intern, Teresa Genna, in 2003, at stream sampling locations in the Wyoming Valley. The collection contains over 34 different macro invertebrates.

Macro Bugs Collection being displayed at the Bear Creek Charter School Earth Day Program at Camp Kresge with Bug Viewers.

Peek-A-Bug collection being displayed at the Bear Creek Charter School Earth Day Program at Camp Kresge

The new “Macros on Ice” samples will be used, along with the older ones, for future environmental education programs. The old plastic vials contain a mixture of distilled water and alcohol to preserve the aquatic insects. The vials sometimes leak, causing the samples to dry out. EPCAMR has nearly 120 vials of macro invertebrates that have been used at hundreds of environmental education programs throughout the coal region.

Previously, the vials were placed in a bug viewer to magnify the macros only from the side. The specimens could not be viewed from the top of the viewer. The 3-D two-way viewers can be used for a variety of objects, including leaves, flowers, and of course, macro invertebrates. The viewers have a top lens that enables the students to view a specimen at 6 times its size, while the lower lens views a specimen from the underside at 4 times its size. The 3-D two-way viewer is a perfect observation tool for both the field and the classroom. It is very durable and kid-friendly, as are the vials.


DragonFly Nymph on ice!

DragonFly Nymph on ice!

Here are a few of the new resin macro invertebrates "on ice" in the mold.

“Macros On Ice” in the mold

The new samples are created by pouring clear polyester casting resin into a mold, resembling an ice cube tray, that holds duplicate macro invertebrate samples from the Peek-A-Bug collection. The resin is then left to harden. At this time, there are 24 “Macros On Ice”. These samples can now be viewed from the top, bottom, and sides of the bug viewers.



New EE materials created by Haley and Mallory

EPCAMR Interns are also working on new educational materials to go along with the new samples, including a Pollution Tolerance Index, a macro invertebrate fact sheet, and an EPA macro invertebrate adaptation information sheet. These sheets are laminated for outdoor environmental education program use.

Macro invertebrates are the “canaries of the coal mines” in our rivers and streams. They are great indicators of stream health and ecology, fishery health, and water quality. EPCAMR not only collects these macro invertebrates for use in our educational programs, but also for stream assessments, to determine stream health of AMD and non-AMD impacted waterways.

EPCAMR Awarded PennEast Community Connector Grant to Develop Underground Mine Map Prints for Wyoming Valley Municipalities

The PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, out of Wyomissing, PA, awarded EPCAMR a $5,000 grant through the Community Connector Grant Program based on our recent application for funding to conduct a Wyoming Valley Underground Mine Mapping Education and Outreach Program for local municipalities, focusing on those downstream of the proposed pipeline project. EPCAMR is the only environmental organization in Luzerne County to receive funding in this grant round. Executive Director, Robert Hughes, emphasizes, “there is a great need for local municipalities to have their own copies of surface and underground mine maps.”

EPCAMR Staff and colleagues review underground abandoned mine maps from the Wyoming Valley.

EPCAMR staff and colleagues review underground mine maps from the Wyoming Valley

EPCAMR intends to utilize these funds for staff time and printing costs of the mine maps for each of the municipalities within the Anthracite coal measures, such as Wyoming Borough, Jenkins Township, Plains Township, and Shickshinny Borough. If there are any municipalities, central to Wyoming Valley, that would like to host a few workshops to aid in conducting the underground mine map outreach component of the grant, please contact Robert at (570) 371-3523.

“EPCAMR is skilled in interpreting surface and underground mine maps and would like to continue to provide technical assistance to the public and our local governments. We also have the printing capabilities to produce large maps, which are easy to view,” says Robert.

Large maps are available for review at the Pittsburgh Office of Surface Mining (OSM), where many maps were transferred, following the closure of the Wilkes-Barre Regional Office several years ago. Maps are also available at Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (PA DEP BAMR) and the PA DEP Regional District Mining Office Bureau of Deep Mine Safety in Pottsville, PA. Due to the condition, size, and continual use of the maps by these state agencies, a large majority of the maps generally stay within these offices.

Underground Mine Map

EPCAMR has been able to acquire a large majority of the OSM Folio maps in digital format over the last few years and are still actively acquiring maps under a 3-year grant agreement with the PA DEP Mine Subsidence Insurance Program. EPCAMR staff scans, catalogues, geo-references, and digitizes the maps for public use. Nearly 10,000 maps have already been approved by the PA DEP and posted to the PA Mine Map Atlas. However, our scope of work requires us to take certain map collections, based on specific storage locations of the maps. The PennEast Community Connector Grant will allow us to focus on some of the maps that we have already processed. Many municipalities do not have the staffing, expertise, funding, or printing capabilities to acquire the maps needed for their own planning efforts or efforts of the public seeking information about the underground mine or surface maps.

EPCAMR staff catalogues the data collected from these maps in the Pennsylvania Historic Underground Mine Map Inventory System (PHUMMIS). This database contains information relevant to past and present underground mining throughout Pennsylvania, including, but not limited to, maps, indices, mine locations, and the like. The information contained in this database has been compiled from various sources and, as a result, neither the DEP or EPCAMR can guarantee its accuracy. The DEP and EPCAMR assume no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in the database. The DEP and EPCAMR disclaim any responsibility for any actions, or lack thereof, taken in reliance on the information contained in the database. Users agree that the DEP and EPCAMR employees, officers, agents, and contractors are not and will not be liable for any damages or losses of any kind, resulting directly or indirectly from the reliance on the information contained in the database.

Figure 1.

EPCAMR is an advocate for the environment and protection of land and water resources that have been adversely affected by past mining practices throughout Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania. During the grant review process, the Selection Committee identified a number of strengths in our proposal. EPCAMR is an advocate for safe practices when it comes to the construction of the pipeline in the chosen area. Given the Wyoming Valley’s past mining and flooding history, we recommended redirecting the pipeline around the Valley, however, PennEast still chose to fund EPCAMR, based on our merit to provide valuable technical assistance to the downstream communities in the Wyoming Valley.

The sets of maps that will be provided to local municipalities will ultimately provide PennEast with geologic and hydrogeologic conditions of the proposed pipeline crossing area. EPCAMR was very upfront with PennEast at the initial public hearing and in our comments to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC). PennEast may have difficulty finding a safe river crossing for placement of the 36-42 inch transmission line. “EPCAMR has a means of researching the conditions of the underground mine workings in the Wyoming Valley to make a determination as to what lies beneath not only our homes, but our river as well. This funding could not have come at a better time for EPCAMR, when funding sources are getting harder and harder to come by. We feel privileged for the opportunity to provide these valuable technical services to our local governments in need of this information. EPCAMR staff seeks funds from all types of sources that will allow us to work in the best interest of the public,” explained Robert.

Alisa E. Harris, Head of Government and Community Affairs, mentioned in her award letter to EPCAMR that “the PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, is pleased to support your efforts and we look forward to building a strong partnership to advancing our mutual commitment to environment and energy education. Community engagement is important to PennEast. The Community Connector Grant Program is another excellent opportunity for us to support the communities where we operate and where our employees make their home.” The PennEast press release can be found here.

EPCAMR Mobile Solar Kiln Wins 1st Place Award from NCAC

EPCAMR’s “Mobile Solar Kiln for Processing and Recycling Oxides from AMD” project recently won 1st Place and a $500 donation at the Non-Profit Community Assistance Center (NCAC) Annual Community Awards Dinner on June 11, 2015 at the Hilton Hotel in Scranton, PA. This dinner was a wonderful opportunity for EPCAMR to network with regional community foundations and highlight our organization’s mission and accomplishments. EPCAMR was nominated in the Environmental Action category. EPCAMR is the first nonprofit organization in the Anthracite Region to design and construct the first solar-powered kiln for drying oxides found in Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD).

Swampy and the Limestone Cowboy with the solar kiln

In 2012, EPCAMR built a large mobile kiln for demonstration purposes in environmental education programs to showcase how oxides can be recycled from AMD. Funds were donated to EPCAMR by the Wilkes-Barre Area School District after the kiln construction to continue to use at other local school districts. This kiln and another smaller kiln, built for the Solomon-Plains Elementary School, has allowed EPCAMR to educate elementary students across the EPCAMR Region. The reason for the design was due to the need for a more efficient way of drying metal oxides collected from local mine drainage that is then utilized for education programs to make AMD Tie-Dye t-shirts, Iron oxide chalk, and paint pigment and wood stain for local artists. This project brings EPCAMR a bit off the grid by reducing the utilization of a soil oven, which consumes a fair amount of electricity to dry the oxides for only a small amount of dried oxide.

EPCAMR Program Manager, Mike Hewitt, designed a system that relieves the oven process. The solar kiln runs off of a 45-watt solar panel system and is made out of mostly recycled materials: motorcycle battery, 12 volt computer fan, single pane storm windows, T-111 wooden siding, and 2x4s. The computer fan is run by the solar panels to remove any excess moisture within the kiln. The inside of the kiln is painted black to absorb as much heat from the sun as possible. The larger kiln is approximately 4′ x 6′, with two hinged doors in the back for loading in the oxides. It rolls on wheels for easy outside access. The solar kiln can dry 8 cake pans at one time, as compared to the two cookie sheets the oven can dry at one time. Within 4 hours, on an 80 degree day, the kiln can reach an inside temperature of 120 degrees. The solar kiln can dry 40 pounds of oxides a day, as compared to 1 pound a day using the oven.


EPCAMR places hydroxides that are about 95% liquid rust into the cake pans and allows for the heat energy to dry them naturally. EPCAMR Staff, interns, and volunteers then sifts the oxide powder to remove any leaf litter or sticks and packages it up to be sold through the EPCAMR Online Store. Proceeds from the Store support our education and outreach programs as well as general operations of the organization.

The smaller solar kiln was provided to the Solomon-Plains Elementary School, who are consistently taking part in environmental programs with EPCAMR. There is a great need for environmental education for students within the Wilkes-Barre School District, who are among the lowest poverty level in Luzerne County, PA. The students can now dry and process their own oxides for when EPCAMR comes to conduct education programs. Other local schools, including Greater Nanticoke Area Elementary and Wilkes-Barre Area Elementary, have also seen the solar kiln in action.

A novelty of this project is that it uses zero use of electricity for the project, unless we produce pigments of Anthracite Red or Silverbrook Purple, which need to be dried in the soil oven after the solar kiln in order to get their darker hues. EPCAMR estimates the electricity used to power the soil oven costs approximately $120/year, just to dry the oxide from the Yellow Boy pigment to Anthracite Red. It costs EPCAMR nothing to utilize the solar kiln to dry the oxide to Yellow Boy.

AMD Pigments

AMD Pigments

The EPCAMR “Mobile Recycled Solar Kiln for Processing and Drying Oxides from AMD” project was funded by the PPL Empowering Educators Grant, in partnership with the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, PA DEP Environmental Education Program, Earth Conservancy, King’s College Environmental Club, Lowe’s, RESTORE, Appalachian Coal Country Team, Office of Surface Mining, and AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service Training for America.

The program involved EPCAMR Staff and interns from King’s College and Wilkes University assisting with the collection of oxides and construction of the solar kilns. Earth Conservancy provides us with the storage for the kiln and access to their AMD treatment systems in Nanticoke and Newport Township for oxides. The Solomon-Plains Elementary 6th grade class and their teachers participated in outdoor field tours with EPCAMR to AMD sites before utilizing the kiln. The students made AMD tie-dye t-shirts for their field trip with the dried Iron oxide they collected on a tour with EPCAMR and have made it an annual tradition that is 3 years strong. More recently, the Greater Nanticoke Area Elementary 4th and 5th grade classes got to see the solar kiln and utilized the Iron oxide from through EPCAMR’s AMD & Art Pottery Education program. Ann Devine and two interns from the PA DEP Environmental Education Program conducted a Solar Race Car Construction Workshop at Solomon-Plains Elementary. Alana Malar Roberts, former PPL Community Relations Coordinator, was was also instrumental in the project.

EPCAMR’s objective was to create a demonstration piece of equipment that would provide under-served elementary school students within the Coal Region the ability to dry Iron oxide from AMD on their own. There were two goals: 1) to go off the grid and be 100% solar and 2) provide students with an opportunity to learn about AMD impacts to their watersheds and find ways to recycle the oxides into many productive uses that are fun and “green”. The benefits of this projects are that students are engaged and introduced to Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) principles that meet the PA Standards for the Environment and Ecology.

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 WBAD at Solomon-Plains Elementary to receive grant check

EPCAMR has always been committed to restoring Pennsylvania’s waterways impacted by AMD and abandoned mine lands. EPCAMR plans to build a 3rd solar kiln in the Fall of 2015 with the remaining materials we have left over from the project and provide it to Heights Elementary. This project educates not only students, but teachers on how schools can be a part of the solution by working with EPCAMR. They will be provided with environmental education experiences on local environmental issues that impact their community directly. They will also learn about environmental stewardship and ways they can get involved in stream-side cleanup.




PA DEP seeks Feedback

by Anne Daymut, WPCAMR Watershed Coordinator

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) is giving the abandoned mine reclamation community an opportunity to provide feedback on your interactions with the department regarding abandoned mine issues since PA DEP’s reorganization in 2011. Since the reorganization, the PA DEP’s abandoned mine program has been divided into two bureaus; the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) handles all abandoned mine land issues while the Bureau of Conservation and Restoration handles all abandoned mine drainage issues. Although these two bureaus have different focuses, they remain linked. PA DEP believes that valuable data collected through this survey will help improve the effectiveness of the reorganization.

Click here to download a survey. Completed surveys are due by June 30, 2015 and should be returned to tammyoung@pa.gov.


EPCAMR brings on Haley Giannone as Summer Watershed Outreach Intern

Haley was born and raised in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, and currently resides in White Haven. She attends Bloomsburg University and will be a Senior this Fall, graduating in January 2016 with a Bachelors of Science in Geography and Planning. She grew up in and around rivers; paddling, camping, hiking, and essentially doing anything outdoors. She was raised to have a love and respect for the natural environment and has always had a desire to protect and restore nature. Through her experiences canoeing, rafting, and kayaking, she has been exposed to the multitude of impacts humans have on rivers. Haley goes on to say, “As a river guide and local on the Lehigh River, I am constantly learning about the impacts mining has had on the land, water, and both human and nonhuman communities in and around mineral resource extraction. Paddling rivers impacted by abandoned mine drainage (AMD) such as the Stonycreek, Cheat, and Nescopeck has allowed me to see firsthand its deleterious effects.”

Haley Gionnone, EPCAMR's newest Summer Watershed Outreach Specialist Intern for 2015.

Haley, EPCAMR’s newest Summer Watershed Outreach Intern

“Learning about mining and AMD in college, as well as seeing it in person, made me want to take part in something that sought to remediate the areas impacted by it. I also feel that, as a native of Pennsylvania, I have somewhat of a responsibility and need to help mend the problems the inhabitants of the past created. So when I had to choose a place to intern for my major, I wanted to pick a place that was taking environmental action and making long-term watershed impacts that were positive. This summer I am hoping to gain a lot of experience in AMD reclamation with EPCAMR, to learn how nonprofit organizations operate, provide technical assistance, and educate communities that are impacted, as well as get my hands dirty working on abandoned mine reclamation and remediation projects with the EPCAMR Staff.”

As for her future plans, Haley states, “I would like to work for an environmental organization either in ornithology, river restoration, trail system creations, or all three! I would also like to become a certified yoga instructor and go for a masters or certificate in ecosystems ecology, watershed science, ornithology, or animal behavior. In my free time I enjoy mountain biking, bouldering and climbing, whitewater kayaking, bird watching hikes, and being outside as much as I can.”

EPCAMR is glad to have Haley on board for a full 13 weeks of the Summer, nearly full-time, for academic credit at BU. Haley is certified in Wilderness and Remote First Aid, CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer and Healthcare Provider, administered by the American Red Cross; certifications that are beneficial to an organization like EPCAMR. She is an Assistant Instructor for Quest at BU, where she manages boating equipment and provides instruction in whitewater rafting, kayaking, and climbing courses.

Haley’s experience at Whitewater Challengers on the Lehigh River gives her great insight into the impacts that AMD has had on the Upper Lehigh and Nesquehoning Creek; it’s not unfamiliar to her. Her experience in rafting and kayaking will also come in handy with excursions that EPCAMR Staff goes on that involves getting into the waterways that are impacted for sampling mine drainage with students. She knows the importance of safety, fitting gear, and can answer questions about the sport and recreational aspects of boating. She is also very knowledgeable about the history of the Lehigh River, including its mining history and connection to the Eastern Middle Anthracite Coalfield in lower Luzerne County. She also knows about the mining impacts in Panther Valley and areas surrounding Summit Hill, Jim Thorpe, and White Haven. However, the large volumes of AMD Haley will see during her internship and the extent of the damage to abandoned mine lands across multiple watersheds throughout Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania may be a bit overwhelming for her. This internship will give her the opportunity to see areas she has not seen before and will allow her to work with the EPCAMR Staff on how to best address these problems, secure funds, and build capacity within the mining-impacted communities to restore the watersheds in their hometowns.

Welcome to EPCAMR, Haley!

EPCAMR Brings on Mallory Pinkowksi as Summer Watershed Outreach Intern

Mallory Pinkowski, a native of the Wyoming Valley, lives in Swoyersville, PA. She is a Junior at Temple University, pursuing a degree in Geology through the College of Science and Technology. She is very excited to get out of Philadelphia and return home for the Summer. Mallory stated, “being away at college, in a busy city, makes me miss the easiness of home. I am excited to return to the fresh air, green grass, trees, and yes, even my family!”

Mallory Pinkowski enjoying a day hike has joined us for the Summer 2015 as a Watershed Outreach Specialist Intern. She's a Senior at Temple University pursuing her degree in Geology.

Mallory Pinkowski enjoying a day hike

In her past three years at college, she has done a great amount of field work, ranging from course field trips to research with one of her professors to studying volcanoes in Hawaii. She has been very fortunate to have these opportunities. She excitedly stated, “I’m also very fortunate to be interning with EPCAMR. This experience will be very different for me because the work being done is in my own backyard, addressing local environmental issues that are so close to home! This will be the first time I am mixing my education with my home life. I am excited to become more educated on the environmental issues the Wyoming Valley faces, and am even more excited to become a part of one of the leading environmental nonprofit organizations in Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania.” EPCAMR has a team of dedicated and passionate environmental professionals addressing these issues and are skilled in many areas of the environment. We are eager to hand on some of those skills to Mallory.

Mallory has some extensive field experiences that will help her transition very easily into the field work EPCAMR carries out on mining-impacted lands and waterways. She has already downloaded data from rain gauges and water level loggers and managed data in database files. She has collected soil samples in Philadelphia, PA on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) for a background study with the US EPA, and has put many hours in the field touring and sampling around volcanoes in Hawaii, through GeoVentures. Mallory is taking courses in remote sensing and GIS that will come in handy at EPCAMR. She will be interning for around 16 hours a week through the Summer and will help out during programs and projects where necessary.

Smiling, EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes, said, “When I found out she also works at The Lands at Hillside Farms, Shavertown, PA, known for their great-tasting ice cream and chocolate milk, I had to take that work experience into consideration too.”

EPCAMR has an existing partnership with The Lands at Hillside Farms and Pennsylvania American Water to conduct AMD Tie-Dye Workshops with youth day campers on the grounds every year. Robert said, “I never leave without going for an ice cream; mint chocolate chip is my favorite.”

Welcome home for the Summer, Mallory! EPCAMR is glad to have you on board!

EPCAMR brings Denise Hernandez on board as Urban Outreach Specialist

Denise Hernandez, EPCAMR's newest Part-time Urban Outreach Specialist strapping up her waders to obtain some iron oxide samples for the 6th grade AMD Field Trip with Plains-Solomon Elementary School from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.

Denise, strapping up her waders to harvest Iron oxide samples for the Solomon Plains 6th grade AMD field trip

Denise comes to EPCAMR through a reference from a professor at Luzerne County Community College, Dr. Brooke Yeager, a long-time supporter and friend of EPCAMR. Denise received her Associate of Science from Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY where she majored in Community Health in 1997. Recently, she also received her Bachelor of Science from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA where she majored in Environmental Studies. As a child, she was always fascinated with nature and the earth sciences. Denise goes on to say, with a passion well understood by the EPCAMR Staff, “growing up in one of the roughest parts of Brooklyn inspired me to go into the Community/Environmental Health field. I believe that a healthy community reflects a sense of mental, physical, and environmental well-being and is the most important foundation for creating a greater sense of community. Good health and a clean environment are essential for a productive community and society as a whole.”

Denise interned for the Institute for Public Policy and Development in Wilkes-Barre, PA in her 2013 Fall semester. She worked as an Administrative Assistant at the Luzerne County Community College Annex in Wilkes-Barre. She also worked as a Parish Secretary at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wilkes-Barre from 2007 to 2015. For a short time, she held an Administrative Assistant position for the Times-Leader in Wilkes-Barre. Denise has a long work history and is bilingual in Spanish. She has been with EPCAMR as a part-time Bookkeeper since June of 2014 and we are pleased to bring her on board to work on our urban outreach initiatives.

EPCAMR intends to reach out to under-served citizens and community groups that we have not yet served. We have already created programs within elementary and high schools within our service area that have reached a large majority of students from many of the urban centers within the Northern Coalfield. Reaching out and educating more diverse groups will increase our visibility within the communities we are serving and create a larger number of EPCAMR volunteers for programs, events, and community service watershed projects. This will inspire them to become local community leaders in activities that will enhance water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, especially in the urban areas.

As Urban Outreach Specialist, Denise will recruit and work with municipalities, commercial businesses, and community organizations to improve existing landscapes and seek funding for community-based projects such as environmental education outdoor learning experiences and the installation of landscape and structural components to increase stormwater quality and AMD remediation.

Denise will also lead the development of new outreach efforts, with a focus on community groups and school districts within the urban centers of the Northern Coalfield. She will lead programs and strengthen EPCAMR’s relationships with existing partners, while forging relationships with new partners within the urban centers. These partners will include businesses, schools, community groups, church groups, watershed groups, and regional conservation organizations. Workshops, field trips, tree plantings, litter and stream cleanups, and other public engagement events will be developed.

As Urban Outreach Specialist, Denise will produce relevant program communications and educational articles through print and social media. She will help create and then utilize summaries of watershed and water quality data to educate and motivate people to take action. Denise will plan and help host public meetings, tours, work parties, and other activities. She will also assist in building support for implementation of future projects and programs, including grant-writing and fundraising. Through her position, Denise will assist in efforts of community revitalization through economic development and increase awareness and understanding of local history and culture.

Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, says, “I’m very happy to have Denise with EPCAMR to assist us with developing new programs that will target our more urban neighborhoods within the Northern Coalfield. Many of the students we reach through our school programs come from within these communities. The programs Denise will be developing and carrying out will allow us to work with them outside of school. We will work toward getting them out in their coal mining impacted communities. Having grown up in Wilkes-Barre and having reached out to many of these communities already, I can tell you that there is a great need to provide the youth and their parents with opportunities to explore nature and become involved in EPCAMR community environmental action projects within the region. Denise is outgoing, funny, enthusiastic, detail-oriented, and calm under pressure. She fits in well with the Staff we have recently built up here at EPCAMR.”

Special upcoming projects the Urban Outreach Specialist will be involved with:

  • Hicks Creek Natural Stream Channel Design & Construction Project
  • Lewis Mine AMD Treatment System Rehabilitation Project
  • Greater Nanticoke Area Outdoor Environmental Education AMD & Pottery Art Classroom Program
  • Centralia Illegal Dump Site Cleanup Project
  • Pollock Enterprises/Whitney Point Illegal Dump Site Cleanup Project
  • Solomon Creek Watershed Coldwater Conservation Plan Implementation Restoration Projects
  • Solomon Creek Watershed Dam Removal and Trout Stream Habitat Improvement Project
  • Old Forge AMD Borehole Hydrogeological Investigation and Monitoring Project
  • Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Borehole Monitoring and Daylighting Project
  • EPCAMR Regional Mine Pool Mapping Project
  • EPCAMR Iron Oxide Harvesting, Recovery, and Processing Project
  • 2015 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference
  • Huber Breaker Miner’s Memorial Park Project
  • From City Streets to Valley Streams Watershed Outreach Program
  • Expanded Partnership with the McGlynn Learning Center and the Mineral Springs Learning Center
  • The Kid’s Café at Heights Elementary
  • Reaching out to various Housing Authorities within the Urban Centers throughout the Northern Coalfield to establish new partnerships and program


EPCAMR has once again partnered with the Anthracite Region Independent Power Producer’s Association (ARIPPA) to offer a competitive award to watershed organizations working on Abandoned Mine Land (AML) and/or Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) remediation projects in the Anthracite Region.  Grants,  at a maximum of $2,500, will be awarded to at least one eligible environmental organization or Conservation District in the Anthracite Region actively working on AML/AMD issues. EPCAMR is hoping to see several good projects that we can leverage the funding for this year.  Grant proposals should be for on-the-ground AML/AMD construction projects with a completion date between August 2014 and August 2016.

Grant application deadline for the current round is: July 10, 2015.

Please visit ARIPPA AML RECLAMATION AWARDS page for more information.

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