CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On Thursday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Sec. Austin Caperton held a virtual ceremony to announce the recommendation of 12 projects that will utilize $27,196,483 in federal grant funding for economic development of abandoned mine land sites across the state, according to a news release.
“This is a lot of money and it could really and truly go a long way,” Gov. Justice said. “Hopefully it’ll do a lot of great things in the areas where the work will be happening – we have a lot of great things happening in West Virginia.”
The grants, provided through the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), are administered by the WVDEP’s Office of Abandoned Mine Lands. The recipients applied for the grant funding earlier this year and were each considered by a committee of representatives from the WVDEP, West Virginia Department of Commerce, West Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Governor’s Office.
The economic development projects must be located on or adjacent to mine sites that ceased operations prior to the signing of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) on August 3, 1977, the release said.
OSMRE must give final approval of the projects and amounts awarded.
Two of the 12 projects would benefit north central West Virginia. One recommendation is for $1 million for the Friends of Cheat to improve trail and river access by building a destination trailhead along the Cheat River in Preston County.
The other, in Tucker County, is $818,000 to construct a water treatment system to improve water quality of the north fork of the Blackwater River and make the site a visitor-friendly education project. This Friends of the Blackwater project will also create a scenic trail between the towns of Thomas and Davis and restore the Davis Coal and Coke Company engineering building for use.
You can see the full project list here.
“These kinds of economic development projects are right in Governor Justice’s wheelhouse and he’s absolutely been a superstar to the entire state for helping us make these valuable projects a reality in West Virginia,” Sec. Caperton said. “We’ve received $105 million over the past four years, all going into economic development activities, and we’ve already received notice that we’re going to get another $25 million in funding for the next year.”
“I want to thank all those involved in making these projects a reality, the project leaders, our county commissioners, mayors, members of the West Virginia Legislature and our West Virginia DEP,” Gov. Justice added. “Without the commitment from each and every one of these dedicated West Virginians, none of this would be possible.”