The North Dakota Public Service Commission’s (PSC) State Reclamation Award Program sets out the criteria for presenting a reclamation award at the Lignite Energy Council’s annual meeting. The LEC awards luncheon for this year was held on September 30th at the Ramkota Hotel. The Reclamation Division recommended that this year’s award be presented to Dakota Westmoreland Corporation (DWC) for taking special measures to preserve wooded draws in their active mine area at the Beulah Mine.
The Reclamation Division recommended that DWC be recognized for implementing a plan to avoid or minimize disturbance to wooded draws at the Beulah Mine. Wooded draws are naturally occurring steep, narrow valleys that are primarily vegetated by trees and shrubs. They provide valuable wildlife habitat as well as landscape diversity and livestock shelter. If disturbed, wooded draws are difficult to reclaim, both topographically and vegetatively.
DWC has a number of wooded draws in its active mine area. Although the lower reaches of most of these wooded draws are not underlain by coal, the upper reaches can be underlain with coal. Oftentimes the upper reaches of the wooded draws are disturbed by associated disturbances, such as sedimentation ponds and diversions and/or by coal removal. DWC modified its mine plan to avoid disturbance to several wooded draws including the upper reaches. This involved moving the location of several ponds and associated diversions out of wooded draw locations. DWC used creative mining and water management methods to avoid disturbance to the upper reaches of the wooded draws thus preserving these unique features.
The Reclamation Division believes that DWC’s implementation of a plan to avoid and minimize disturbance to wooded draws is worthy of this year’s State Reclamation Award under the Mining and Reclamation Operations category.