CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The director of West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources said officials in his agency were satisfied a proposed mine site near the border of Kanawha State Forest would not cause any long lasting damage or impact on the forest.

Frank Jezioro offered testimony Wednesday before the state’s Surface Mine Board on the KD 2 Mining permit.

Opponents of the activity quizzed Jezioro about how the agency reached the conclusion to allow the mining permit. Jezioro said most of the concerns by the DNR involved sights, sounds, and disruption of use in the forest.

“We believed through concessions or changes, the impacts would be minimized or mitigated to where they would be a temporary inconvenience to the park users,” said Jezioro. “Based on that, we agreed.”

During cross-examination, Jezioro acknowledged there could be some impact on the forest.

“If you close some of the hiking trails temporarily, this would be a disruption, so yeah,” he said. “The sounds in the forest is serene. The view shed is important, the disruption of hiking and biking were all important to us.”

Members of the Kanawha State Forest Coalition and other individuals are opposed to the permit. They feared the impact of mining will be far more drastic than regulators believe. Jezioro acknowledged his agency received at least 180 public comments on the permit, all of which were opposed to the mining activity.

Charleston lawyer William DePaulo who represented Keepers of the Forest raised several other questions during Tuesday’s meetings. DePaulo maintained the state Department of Environmental Protection had not done a proper study of the Northern Long Eared Bat population in the forest. The bats are proposed for federal protection, but so far have not been extended the status. Jezioro testified he had no knowledge of any work by his agency on the bat study.

DePaulo also asked Jezioro if he was assured after mining was complete, the mining operator would replace the mountain which would be removed. The question raised objections from the legal team from Keystone Development. DePaulo also interjected when the mining firms attorneys sought comment from Jezioro on the requirements of replacing the site to approximate original contour.

“What I envision is, they said they would reforest that section with hardwood timber. The mountain obviously would not be brought back,” Jezioro stated. “My perception from past experience, reading, or whatever is most if not all surface mining permits require the contour be restored as close to natural as it was prior to the mining.”

Opponents have raised the matter of the DNR’s windfall from the mining activity. The company has agreed to dredge two fishing ponds in the forest and to pay the DNR ten-cents a ton over the life of the mining permit. The total revenue from the work could be $700,000 earmarked for work and improvements at Kanawha State Forest. When asked by the Surface Mine Board if they would have rejected the permit without the royalty, Jezioro replied, “No.”

The board continued to take testimony and is expected to make a decision on the permit at a later date.

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Comments

  • David Kennedy

    Two items for the 'Eco-nuts to consider.

    1. The land will be improved and more valuable AFTER the mining is done.

    2. A certain amount of money (per ton) is being set aside to compensate and rectify ANY unseen damages.

    Please go back to Oregon and California...they need you there.

    • LAD

      I've worked in this Great State as a representative of many different industries that impact the environment including coal, oil and gas and environmental protection and conservation. I have seen roundabout 100 or so reclamations after a mining or other extraction project. In my opinion, less than a handful (4 or 5) were completed and restored a "back to normal" habitat and environment in the area. Many times money is the reason for this but it may also include laziness and general apathy toward the reclamation process. My point is that rarely does a reclamation project get completed and the area restored to the way God created it and Mother Nature intended. That is not to say that there are always long term, detrimental impacts to the ecosystem in that area, but it is foolish to thing that we humans can recreate nature as it was before us.

      Just an observation by an individual with a smidge of experience on the subject.

  • Raging Moderate

    @Thornton

    I agree with many of your points but "My ears will hear some sounds uncommon to the forest"? This is your description of blasting?

    It's more if a two-way street than just black and white. The mining company will dredge two ponds and paying the state 10 cents a ton, money that will at least ostensibly go back into work and improvements to the KSF. And the mining companies have already made several compromises, something you cannot say about those who oppose this.

    it's not as simple as "us vs them".

    • thornton

      Yes, blasting will be beyond an uncommon sound but neither will it be forever.

      I would suggest that hikers and birders and all consider discovering the other wonderful WVa options in woods-walking for a spell. Then, return to a smiling forest and her critters.

      In other words, look past ME to the benefits possible, including benefits to ME.

      Or, folks can just complain.
      The world will still spin, regardless.

  • Fishman

    I have worked as a contractor at the keystone mine operation since its beginning and can say that these true mountaineer miners are some of the best at controlling their operations of many others i have seen. Their reclaimations are first class. The millionaries that live close to their operations can attest to this and i bet none of them attended the hearing. Let them do their job, collect the money promised and i guarantee they will continue their excellent work, quietly.

    • Swiftly

      God help us if that's the best they can do.

  • SadMountaineer

    Let's just blow up the whole dang state. Take every mountain top off and just destroy everything around us. At least a few will get richer. Screw WV in the name of $$$$.

    • Plopaganda

      My thoughts, exactly. Who cares about the beauty, peace, and serenity of our beloved state so long as Texans are making a profit?

  • David

    Endangered species or protected status has becoming nothing more than a tool to stop progress by environmentalists and other like minded socialists nut jobs...

    • Swiftly

      What makes you think that people who care about the land are socialists? That doesn't make any sense. Socialist and communist countries have been some of the worst polluters.
      I am always amazed at how forcefully many conservatives will fight for their right to own firearms while ridiculing those of us who fight for our right to clean air and water, as if a healthy environment is any less critical to our lasting freedom and self-determination.
      You can't drink guns, my friend.

      • Shadow

        I would say that a Socialist believes that he owns and controls someone else's property. If the shoe fits....

      • The bookman

        I find it amazing that anyone can assume that they somehow own the issue of clean air and clean water, that somehow if you advocate for the responsible development of necessary resources, you are against two of the basic necessities of life.

        We all breathe air, and require clean water. Responsible and regulated development of resources can and do exist in the same plane with clean air and clean water.

        Conservatives protect our, yours and mine, right to keep and bear arms because those rights are under assault by people who do not understand its significance in a free society. But we still breathe air and drink water, and those are important issues to us as well.

  • thornton

    Sound thinking and responses by Jezioro in the face of some rather ridiculous comments of "replace the mountain?" and those dolts trying to play the Bat card.
    For the purpose, it's almost as good a card as can be found in a new deck of bicycles.
    I suspect someone brought up that perennial impacted species gambit as a surefire work stopper.
    It's just a shame that impact on a species is so narrowly considered today or that so few understand that a forest and it's critters find benefits from disturbance.

    This issue, to a degree, distills down to Humans trumping the Forest.
    MY trail may be temporarily closed, MY ears will hear some sounds uncommon to the forest, MY eyes will be forced to see a reforesting area, MY ego is bruised by everyone not agreeing with ME.

    Hopefully, the project continues and that disturbances or impacts to air and water; ears and egos is monitored and dealt with in an adult, rather than a selfish and childish, manner that is all too common today.

    • David Kennedy

      If those 'dolts were really playing the 'Bat Card they would be shutting down the Wind Mills and restoring our mountain tops to their natural beauty.
      'Not to mention the thousands of birds that are killed by those whirling monsters.

    • Swiftly

      Oh, Thornton,
      You must realize that ALL disturbance is not beneficial, right?
      Some disturbance is beneficial, no doubt. Such as forest fires, which in many ecosystems are a necessary contributor to habitat vitality and renewal.
      Or beaver ponds which create wetland and edge habitat.
      Small scale sustainable timber harvest can even be beneficial to an overall ecosystem if done with care and wisdom.

      Large scale strip mining is an altogether different animal. A very few species may benefit, the same way pigeons thrive in urban cities, but the overall impact of these projects on water quality, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem health, and overall diversity is extremely detrimental.

      You may be able to make the case that very small scale surface mining (as in a few acres here and there) creates beneficial edge habitat, but again, that's very different from hundreds of thousands of acres in huge blocks being converted from highly diverse temperate hardwood habitat to poor quality grasslands. At that point the adverse impacts far far outweigh the benefits.

      • thornton

        Oh, Swifty...is the KSF being strip mined?

        Or are you using the noted and possible "disturbances" to the KSF as simply the vehicle to toot about the horrors of mining? It seems most that you are not letting a good imbroglio go unspun in your direction of preferential concern.
        Politics 101....divert and adopt.

        Forest fires can be beneficial...and not. It is never quite as simple as your limited knowledge enables you to believe. Small scale timbering can be a value as well and it can result in too little sunlight to hit the forest floor for benefits for many species....again, it depends most upon everything from tree species, slope, direction faced and on and on and on. No single harvest prescription is best everywhere and neither is every disturbance equal....in terms of value or harm.

        Lastly, I was not making the case for mining. I was expressing the idea that the KSF could benefit from the mining activity near it.
        I know that does to fit the giant issue of mining that you wish to fume about but, here again, on the scale that is actually involved, you the Human and your, or more correctly MY, need to chirp....trumps any ultimate benefits or even the consideration of benefits to a Forest.

        My last paragraph above remains a hope.
        But, I do doubt the application of wisdom and maturity in this issue....just does not make folks all giggly enough.

      • Shadow

        As a question, where are your hundreds of thousand acres located?