Harrison News Herald
Monday, January 7, 2008
Cravat Coal Honored for Pilot Program
By Robert A. Defrank
News-Herald Staff Writer
Changes in local landscape and the laws that effect mining and reclamation statewide are in the works, thanks to a successful pilot program spearheaded by Cravat Coal Co. in conjunction with the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Management and the Ohio Department of Wildlife.
Michael Puskarich, president of Cravat Coal, said mining companies had faced an ongoing problem since state criteria requires that miners restore vegetation to mining areas after work was completed. However, the heavy grass that grew from compacted soil choked out the growth of new trees.
But cooperation, innovation and hard work have provided a new alternative.
Puskarich added that credit is due to Michael Hiscar, representing OSM, and Jeff Emmonds and Jeff Formenko representing the state Division of Mineral Management.
“We all put our heads together. Through their direction we were able to create non-compacted soils,” Puskarich said. “This is thinking outside of the box. Everyone should be commended for it.”
The Jockey Hollow Wildlife Area was then chosen for the site of the pilot program.
“It was the perfect circumstances. The state owns the property and it was the perfect place to try this project,” he said.
The project kicked off two years ago when more than 33,000 hardwood trees were planted on the 55-acre site. They included American Chestnut, Black Chokeberry, Silky Dogwood, American Plum, American Crabapple, sycamores, and white, red and Shumard oaks. Area schools participated in the tree planting.
Puskarich added that the planting method proved highly effective. Despite the arid year, the survival rate was 75 percent.
“Which is highly successful through this joint effort,” he said. “It’s a wonderful site and the trees are growing, which will create a forest habitat for future generations.”
He added that working on the pilot project had suggested many new methods that might be included in future ventures of this type to increase the survival rates. Reclaimers could stagger the piles of soil to allow for more air and water, while the types of trees could also be placed in terrain more suited to their specific needs. Companies might also incorporate the process during mining.
Puskarich added that the pilot program was slightly more costly than the normal method, but putting these methods into practice would probably streamline the process and make subsequent projects more cost effective. Mining companies would now be capable of restoring an area as forest or prairie as the landowner desires.
“This pilot program will probably lead to new reclamation laws,” said Puskarich. “It gives the operators, the landowner and the public opportunity either to have trees or grasses.”
In recognition of this commitment and success, Cravat Coal was recently awarded the Appalachian Regional Reclamation Incentive for exemplary performance using the forestry reclamation approach and the Division of Mining Resources Management Award for excellence in mining.
“While we have received many awards in the past for excellence in reclamation, this is probably the most special award we’ve received because of the winning cooperation involved from so many people,” Puskarich said, adding that the site of the pilot program would benefit future generations.
“The Jockey Hollow Wildlife Area has been bought for the citizens of Ohio and other state for public use.”
This was made possible by the Conservation Fund of Arlington, VA., the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Ruffed Grouse Society, the Division of Wildlife and the American Chestnut Federation. The program also had the enthusiastic support of many diverse individuals and groups.
“On the dedication a number of different conservation groups at loggerheads came together to celebrate this new process,” Puskarich said. “We’ve received a tremendous amount of support on this project.”
Cravat Coal has sold its mining operations to Oxford Mining, and the new process will likely be carried over by the new operator. In addition, similar projects are under way in Barnesville and in other areas. He noted the value of coal as an energy resource, pointing out that its abundance makes possible the manufacturing jobs that som many people depend on.
“It’s the cheapest, most abundant source of energy there is,” said Puskarich, adding that the coal operators are both aware and very concerned with the mining process as it related to the environment. “The coal miners are practicing environmentalists and the coal companies are always giving back. Most important, the safety of the men is the No. 1 priority at all times.”
Michael Puskarich president of Cravat Coal, and Administrative Assistant Lavonda New pose with the awards the coal company recently received for the successful pilot project in reclaiming the Jockey Hollow Wildlife Area.