The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation received the 2020 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards national award for its removal of 70 acres of hazardous coal refuse piles in Ehrenfeld, Cambria County.
Erosion blocked a tributary to the Little Conemaugh River, causing acidic water to leak into streams. Also, burning refuse piles degraded the air quality for the residents. To mitigate these hazards, the refuse piles were removed and burning stopped to improve the Little Conemaugh watershed. From 2016 to 2019, crews removed the refuse. The project was funded through the DEP's Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program.
From 2016, grants of $105 million have been injected into Pennsylvania's economy for the construction of 53 projects. These projects restore and maintain the economies of surrounding communities. More information about all of these pilot program projects can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's website at
The Ehrenfeld reclamation project has resulted in new opportunities for recreation and tourism with the addition of a community park and safer walking trails.
The awards are presented by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and highlight the most impressive reclamation projects in America each year.