CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Environmental Protection issued a surface mining permit Thursday to Keystone Industries that will allow the company to mine property near Kanawha State Forest in Kanawha County.

The DEP said the project has received considerable discussion since it was first submitted in 2009 and several changes have been made in the original request to reduce “potential adverse impact” to the forest.

The agency listed in the changes in a project in a Thursday evening news release:

·         Reduction of the overall acreage from 597.87 acres to 413.8 acres

·         Elimination of any plans to include valley fills, in-channel fills or in-channel ponds

·         Leaving a buffer between the mining operation and all identified channels

·         Elimination of proposed surface mining on two coal seams on the forest side, thereby limiting the area mined and increasing the buffer between the mine and the forest from 300 feet to 588 feet at its nearest point (this is nearly double the regulatory requirement)

·         A handling plan involving placing rock and dirt removed from this mining site on nearby pre-law mining sites (sites mined prior to 1977 when the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act was implemented) to help with the restoration of those sites

·         Requiring that the area be restored to its approximate original contour and that native hardwood trees be replanted

·         Requiring that the ridge facing the forest be mined last, thereby limiting the time the operation is visible to park visitors

·         Acceleration of the reclamation timeframe

·         Limiting blasting during times of heavy park usage, such as on holidays and weekends, except in emergency situations

·         Pre-blast surveys and seismographic monitoring for architectural structures of historical significance located within the forest

The DEP said Keystone also has agreed not to use state forest roads for mining activity. It will also clean out the sediment filled fishing pond and pay a 10 cents for every ton of coal mined to the DNR as mitigation costs.

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Comments

  • Jason412

    Bookman,

    Admittedly, I know nothing about this particular area. Is there a state park within this state forest? I ask because two of the conditions of the permit

    "Requiring that the ridge facing the forest be mined last, thereby limiting the time the operation is visible to park visitors"

    "Limiting blasting during times of heavy park usage, such as on holidays and weekends, except in emergency situations"



    The emphasis being on the "park visitors" and "park usage" parts of those statements.

    • The bookman

      No, just the Forest. But given its proximity to Charleston, setting just behind the Southridge Area, it gets a lot of visitors.

      • Jason412

        I get that. It's the fact they used the word "park" that I am asking about.

        In your below post you said, "They are not Parks by definition, and are not to be managed as such."

        I'm not trying to dispute that, just looking for enlightenment on why they would say "park usage" not "forest usage". It seems it is being used interchangeably. Is that a metronews typo?

        • The bookman

          Not really, as much as some of the "Forests" in the state system take on a more park like atmosphere, as is possible under the rules of multiple use management. The phases of recreation, hunting, water conservation and resource development are to exist equally across the forest, however they tend to get skewed based on best effective use. Kanawha receives quite a bit of people pressure, and therefore has more park characteristics than say, Kumbrabow, which is more resource oriented due to its location in the high mountain area of Randolph County. But they are both Forests and therefore due carry the surface resource component of multiple use.

  • Big Deal

    Do we really need a mountaintop mine next to a state forest? It's like putting a strip club next to a church. Two completely different ends of the spectrum.

    • The bookman

      Actually I don't see a disconnect at all. Our State and National Forests carry the mandate of multiple use management practice, which includes the development of natural resources for economic benefit. The permit reflects a higher level of scrutiny to guard against negative impacts of the project, and industry should be commended for working with DEP to produce a permit that has such conservation goals as included in the permit.

      The disconnect is in the way people view State and National Forests. They are not Parks by definition, and are not to be managed as such. Rahall's position runs against the proper management techniques of multiple use, and as a result curries the favor of Sierra Club et al. That isn't good for the overall health of the forest or the multiple species that thrive on disturbance and succession. And in the end, that's not good for WV.

      • Jeff

        I guess WV state forests should change their mission statement:

        to “promote conservation by preserving and protecting natural areas of unique or exceptional scenic, scientific, cultural, archaeological, or historical significance and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for the citizens of this state and its visitors.”

        I missed where it states turning forested land into superfund sites

        • RD

          State forests allow for multiple uses as are national forests, however the Kanawha State Forest is an exception to the rule. Timber harvesting is not allowed in that particular "forest". It is ran more like a park than the original intent as a "Forest". Parks are for preservation and Forests are for conservation.
          The permit granted is for a contour surface mine, this is not a mountain top site. The land will be put back to "AOC".
          For you to use the term superfund shows your ignorance.

          • Jeff

            Thanks for the information about Kanawah.

            Since you are not ignorant, you understand that "AOC," while better than left unreclaimed, the original landscape is not the same in many ways.

        • Jeff

          Really?? You're whole argument is based on this line??

          "mandate of multiple use management practice, which includes the development of natural resources for economic benefit."

          Well gee, I guess the coal company can just blast away at the state forest since it's no different than the adjacent private property!

          Oh wait, they can't? Maybe the 2 parcels aren't all that similar after all. Maybe in Bookman's world similar means different. I'd hate to see what he thinks environmentally conscious means.

          • The bookman

            Well we do agree on the WV thing, and a lot of those other things you mentioned are valid points of contention. But those are the human failings of our history, and therefore I see as a separate political issue than the environmental pros and cons of coal.

          • Jeff

            I don't despise a rock. I despise everything everything it stands for: corruption, poverty, pollution, disease, destruction, greed, coercion. Most of all, I love WV.

          • The bookman

            Well we both know they can't blast away the State Forest, and no one has suggested that they could or would. But when you have no argument, apparently all you have is absurdity, which you have displayed well this morning. I never answered your question about coal. I am not endeared to coal as much as I don't like the way in which the industry has been denigrated by folks like yourself. So why do folks like yourself despise coal so much?

        • The bookman

          This site isn't on state property. It adjoins it and is private property. The statement you provide in your post is illustrative of the misconception most people have in differentiating between State Parks and Forests. That is the statement on the lead parks and forest page of the DNR and is a joint mission statement with which I agree.

          Below is the descriptive paragraph from the Division of Forestry that hopefully will help you to clear up your obvious confusion.

          "The West Virginia Legislature mandates that the State Forests are an important resource for silvicultural and scientific research; developed and undeveloped outdoor recreation; propagation of forest trees, fish and wildlife; wildlife and fisheries management; aesthetic preservation; hunting and fishing; timber production; and demonstration of state-of-the-art forest management and therefore should be managed on a multiple-use basis. The policy of the Division of Forestry is to manage each State-owned Forest for multiple benefits while guarding that the Division's actions are ecologically responsible and economically viable."

          There must be room for business and industry to exist and prosper with sound conservation practices guiding the process. Without that cooperation, we might as well resort to camping in tents and foraging for food. Thanks for helping me to illustrate the difference.

          • The bookman

            Then baby steps it will be!

            "Actually I don't see a disconnect at all. Our State and National Forests carry the mandate of multiple use management practice, which includes the development of natural resources for economic benefit."

            Those are the first two sentences in the reply to Big Deal. The first sentence is the point of difference, that the two land tracts do not conflict in land use. The next sentence lays the groundwork as to why. The private tract has been identified by the owner for natural resource development, and the public forest has by mandate of the legislature the requirement of natural resource development that is economically viable and environmentally conscious. Therefore both tracts have similar land use properties and are not as divergent as Big Deal purports them to be. It's not a state park, it's a state forest.

          • Jeff

            Actually Bookman, that wasn't your point at all. Big Deals comment was that mountain top removal and a state forest are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You disagreed, somehow making the argument that a 500 acre strip mine is totally the same thing as fishing and sensitive timber extraction.

          • The bookman

            Maybe basic reading comprehension skills should preface any additional study on this issue for you Jeff. My first post to Big Deal related directly to his point of resource development NEXT to the State Forest. My comment was on point in defining that both tracts were not in a conflicting land use position, as State Forest Lands have as part of their mandate natural resource development. You may have assumed otherwise, however I will await any quotation from the above thread that places my comments as advocating strip mining on the State Forest.

            Start with "See Spot Run" and build those skills. It's never too late to start.

          • The bookman

            Maybe basic reading comprehension skills should preface any additional study on this issue for you Jeff. My first post to Big Deal related directly to his point of resource development NEXT to the State Forest. My comment was on point in defining that both tracts were not in a conflicting land use position, as State Forest Lands have as part of their mandate natural resource development. You may have assumed otherwise, however I will await any quotation from the above thread that places my comments as advocating strip mining on the State Forest.

            Start with "Dick and Jane" and build those skills. It's never too late to start.

          • Jeff

            Ha OK Bookman. The only thing extreme is your ability to switch focus on a dime. The article is about strip mining adjacent to a state forest. Your first comment to Big Deal expounds that strip mining is in line with the state forest multi-use mission. I called shenanigans. Now it's not about the forest at all, but universal issues in my daily life. I haven't argued once about the validity of the permit on private property. Why are you so fanatical about coal?

          • The bookman

            Jeff,

            Big Deal brought it up, and I explained that private resource development located adjacent to public land which under multiple use management principles is mandated to participate in resource development isn't in conflict as he described. And again you demonstrate the closed minded approach of the environmental movement. The argument is not about strip mining Kanawha State Forest. It's whether private development of resources on its border is appropriate. The results of this private development will actually improve the State Forest through the mitigation payments and direct improvements required by the permit. I don't need to re read the statement I've posted, as I understand the principles of forest management. I would suggest some careful study on your part to educate yourself on the universal issues in our daily life, not just the environmental concerns that appear to be your singular focus. Balance us what we need, not extremism.

          • Jeff

            Yes, I know it's not state property, but you brought it up.

            Re-read the mission statement you pasted. I missed where it even insinuates land devastation from strip mining. Maybe they could edit that in after aesthetic preservation. You're reaching pretty far, unless "scientific research" means studying the effects of arsenic and mercury on organisms.

  • CaptainQ

    Bookman's right, I'm sure Obama's EPA will simply revoke that mining permit in short order anyway.

    Coal is dead in WV, and the Obama Administration is speeding up it's demise in every way it can.

  • The bookman

    Does an approval really mean ANYTHING anymore?