OFFICE of SURFACE MINING
RECLAMATION and ENFORCEMENT

U.S. Department of the Interior

Graphic of trees and lake scenery.

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Alaska

Evan Jones Coal Mine

Jonesville Surface Burning - Multiple Phases for Maximum Benefits

Because the Fire department had a stand pipe on Slipper Lake that they were unable to use during part of the project the contractor fabricated a platform around the stand pipe to benefit their future use. Before the platform the fire department personnel were forced to stand on the bank of the lake and hold their suction hose up as high as they could reach to attach it to the stand pipe. Now they can walk straight out from the roadway and plug it in. As an extra touch of community benefit the area on either side of the stand pipe was made wide enough for a wheelchair so that people dependent on that appliance for mobility could get out to a spot where they could fish or just enjoy the scenery (Figure 7). Rainbow trout have reportedly been caught from Slipper Lake that are 36-inches long.

The offending pile was subsequently removed from the area and fire rings (Figure 8, Figure 9) placed on rock pads near the lake edge to prevent surface fires from igniting the surface coal spoils and discourage fire building near the forested areas adjacent to the site.

Figure 7

A completed multi-functional stand pipe facility.

Figure 8

View of The height of the objectionable pile can be seen relative to the roadway that skirts it.

Figure 9

View of After the pile was removed fire rings using State Parks Remote campsite standard designs were installed on gravel pads.

More erosion control was needed on the steeper sections of the Phase I project. We used inmate labor from the nearby Palmer Correctional Facility to gather and plant the willows (Figure 10). The Plant Materials center stored the cuttings for us until ground conditions allowed planting. The area was “trenched” using a small dozer with modified ripper teeth to create trenches for the cuttings to be laid in and the inmate crew did the planting for us. This provided a low cost, high value addition to the overall project. An additional side benefit of this form of erosion control is that the entire project area is within the Matanuska Valley Moose Range – and a favorite food for moose is willows!

One access road leading to the project area was partially rebuilt in conjunction with Phase II and the other was rebuilt as a stand-alone maintenance project for Phase I in 2009. Even though many measures have been taken to protect the water clarity of Slipper Lake there remains sediment potential from the flat that was left after the pile was removed from the Phase I area. To eliminate this once and for all the area will receive a one foot layer of rock applied in two lifts and compacted in place that will keep the water that does migrate off-site into the lake as clean as the lake itself. This is scheduled for early summer 2010 using a State-owned gravel source that will allow us to do the rocking without having the loaded trucks come through the Sutton Community.

Figure 10

A completed multi-functional stand pipe facility.

Figure 11

View of The height of the objectionable pile can be seen relative to the roadway that skirts it.

The Sutton Community Council and the Sutton Library staff have been instrumental in helping us design the projects around Slipper Lake to keep the short-term negative impacts of our mitigation efforts to an absolute minimum while allowing us to implement strategies and features that increase future beneficial uses of the area – without increasing our mitigation costs. Actively involving the community and site users early in the project planning stage pays big dividends in both end results and AML Program support.

What next in the vicinity? The area around Coyote Lake saw AML Program highwall mitigation efforts a decade ago. This enabled recreational users to enjoy the area as can been seen in Figure 11.

The access road to this project was never rebuilt to support the construction equipment moving to the site. As a result the only access to the area presently is by ATV on a deeply rutted and eroding roadway. This generates sediment flows into the anadromous stream, Eska Creek, just down slope from the lake. During the summer of 2010 we plan on working with the Sutton Community Council, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (landowner at Coyote Lake), Cook Inlet Region Incorporated (the native group who owns the land where the majority of the offending roadway is located), and the Alaska department of Transportation to try to find some cost-effective way to mitigate this unintended consequence of past projects and once again allow the types of use shown above.

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