On November 6, 2017, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) recognized four Wyoming mining companies with the “Good Neighbor Award”.
The four Wyoming coal mine operators recognized are Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, Kiewit Mining Group, and Peabody Energy. The Good Neighbor Award is given to mine operators for successfully working with the community while completing mining and reclamation operations that benefit the state and the nation.
The mine operators coordinated this effort in cooperation with the Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association. The association is a private non-profit organization dedicated to a responsible and balanced, science-based approach to the long-term management of members’ lands. Current membership includes 22 livestock/agricultural producers and ten Wyoming Surface Coal Mines as well as three associate members.
“This award recognizes the outstanding and ongoing efforts of Wyoming’s coal industry to be a good neighbor and steward. Partnering with the ranching and business communities and working collaboratively is clearly in the best interest of our state,” said Travis Deti, Wyoming Mining Association executive director. “Our reclamation and environmental stewardship are world class, and we can all be proud of the men and women who work so hard to make this happen.”
A few of the highlights of this joint effort between industry and the agricultural members of the association over the past 17 years include: a long term plan to enhance sagebrush grassland habitat for sage-grouse and associated key species; implementation of land management practices (prescribed grazing practices, prescribed fire, herbicide application, interseeding, and advanced reclamation techniques) to protect and enhance habitat from invasive plant species such as cheatgrass; completed extensive geographic mapping of approximately 70,000 acres of black-tailed prairie dog colonies on the Thunder Basin National Grassland (TBNG) in cooperation with the United States Forest Service (USFS); enhancement and improvements in water management that include conversion of windmill pump systems to solar based units and enhancement of green areas for sage-grouse brood rearing; and the association has conducted outreach and hosted workshops on shrub establishment and state of the art reclamation practices with agricultural and government agencies. The association continues to contribute research support to help guide current and future land management decisions in the Powder River Basin.
“This cooperative long-term effort between stakeholders is a best management practice example of how Wyoming can develop and reclaim resources with competing interests in a balanced manner that benefits the state,” said Kyle Wendtland, Land Quality Administrator. “The membership of the association should take great pride in their efforts and the cooperative manner they have engaged all stakeholders.”