Page 5 - CEC_Elements_Fall2017_flip






Page 5 - CEC_Elements_Fall2017_flip
P. 5

FALL 2017

           What’s Mined

           Is Now Yours:

           Restoring Disturbed Lands for Future Use

      Before restoration, the public used this stream as a road, which degraded aquatic habitat in the watershed. A geomorphic survey and natural channel design were completed
      to provide an ecological improvement to the watershed. Public access was maintained, and an improved riparian corridor now runs parallel to the newly designed road.

      Coal mining operations in a state   In 2014, EIP purchased three properties   “We continue to seek out CEC for these
      with terrain as complex as West     totaling roughly 10,000 acres, including   demanding sites,” Birnie explained. “The
                                          85 miles of streams, for a new mitigation   volume Nate has designed is unmatched,
      Virginia’s involve creative extraction
      methods, including doing so atop    bank in the Guyandotte and Tug Fork River   and his work has been groundbreaking in
      mountains with unusually steep slopes.    watersheds in West Virginia. The bank   terms of the way it’s been done.”
      As difficult as they may be to mine, these   would be developed in partnership with   Because the properties consisted largely of
      sites can prove even more difficult to   the Canaan Valley Institute, an organization   steep terrain, special restoration techniques
      reclaim when operations are complete  dedicated to improving water quality in the   were devised to restore stream reaches.
                                          central Appalachian region.         “We had bulldozers safely but delicately
      Further, to obtain a new environmental   Where others might have opted to restore   navigating the steep hillsides. The
      permit to begin extracting resources in the   an easily accessible river, EIP specifically   contractors used a cable system and were,
      first place, mining companies need proof   targeted these three properties. “We   in a sense, ‘yo-yoing’ in a stair-step pattern
      they will offset their unavoidable impacts to   thought, ‘Let’s mitigate the impact on the   down the mountainside,” Ober recalled.
      the landscape, and will do so in the same   same stream types likely to be affected   “We truly pushed the limits on what you can
      watershed as their intended operations.
                                          as a way to restore equal balance,’ ” said   do from a stream restoration standpoint.”
      To that end, many companies now look   Katherine Birnie, Managing Director of EIP.    The project team ultimately developed
      to mitigation banks for said proof, which   The project would be the largest stream   innovative mitigation credit options for
      comes in the form of credits. Why mitigation   mitigation bank ever created in West Virginia.  reforested, steeply sloped sites—options
      banks? Because organizations like the   Geomorphologist Nate Ober, an ecosystem   now being considered as models for similar
      U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have stated   restoration expert in CEC’s Bridgeport,   mitigation projects.  ■
      that obtaining credits from a reputable   W.Va., office, led the project design. “All of
      mitigation bank is the most preferred   the EIP properties required not only mine
      method of mitigation, not the company’s   reclamation but also stream restoration
      own permittee-responsible mitigation. And   to reconnect, reestablish, and enhance
      because they free the mining company to   ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial
      focus on what it does best: mine coal.
                                          streams disturbed and disconnected by
      When mitigation banking sponsor Ecosystem   industry,” noted Ober. “The project posed
      Investment Partners, LLC, (EIP) opted to   unique challenges compared with other
      provide a thoughtful and balanced option   mitigation banks. First, reforestation had
      to reclaim previously surface-mined and   somewhat masked the underlying land
      deep-mined coal sites in West Virginia and   and stream disturbance. Second, we
      then offer those restored sites as options   were looking at slopes pushing 70% with
      for offsetting future impacts to sites, a kind   headwaters streams cascading down the
      of benefit loop ensued: mine reclamation   hillsides. No one else is doing stream   This detailed 3D stream design helps provide accurate
      as an enabler of future mining operations.   restoration at those kinds of slopes.”  earthwork quantities and precision during construction.
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