November 1, 2005
Contact: Steve Moyer, TU Vice President for Government Affairs, (703) 284-9406, firstname.lastname@example.org
Trout Unlimited and U.S. Department of Interior Collaborate to Restore Abandoned Mine Lands
Partnership will facilitate cleanup of acid mine drainage across the country
Washington The national conservation organization Trout Unlimited (TU) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM). Through this partnership, TU and OSM will work together to protect and restore watersheds that historically supported trout populations and which now are adversely impacted by acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines.
The drainage from abandoned coal mine sites is the single largest threat to the Appalachian environment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Often laced with toxic metals and sediments, abandoned mine drainage degrades drinking water, diminishes aquatic habitat, and robs rivers of their abilities to support fish and wildlife.
In May 2005, TU released a report called Restoring the Wealth of the Mountains: Cleaning up Appalachias Abandoned Mines, which highlights those affected rivers and watersheds where effective clean ups are possible. TU has launched a major effort to clean up abandoned mines identified in the report and is working with public and private partners throughout the country to restore these areas. Todays MOU builds on these model clean up projects that TU and its volunteers are conducting in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
This partnership represents an exciting opportunity to work with OSM to restore abandoned mine lands, said Steve Moyer, TU Vice President for Government Affairs. Although funding is woefully scarce for restoration efforts, significant progress can be made when people work together to restore the health of the lands and waters that sustain us.
As part of todays agreement, TU and OSM agreed to jointly support the National Fish Habitat Initiative and work with partners to focus attention and resources to protect, restore and enhance aquatic habitat and reverse declines in fish and other aquatic species. TU and OSM are optimistic their new partnership will lead to increased restoration of abandoned mine lands across Appalachia and elsewhere in the United States.