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This is a text-only version of the document "Eagle Butte Mine - History of Reclamation 1976 to 1992". To see the original version of the document click here.
MEMORANDUM

TO:

Richard A. Chancellor, Engineering Ramona Christensen, Technical Records Specialist

supervisor~

FROM: DATE: SUBJECT:

~BOb

Giurgevich, District III Supervisor

December 27, 1993 Reclamation History of the Eagle Butte Mine (1976-1992), Permit No. 428-T2

AMAX sent this two-volume gift under Neil Hutten's letter of 12/17/93 (attached). This submittal was unsolicited. No District III staff discussed or requested this information. District III will not review this document. For the moment, District III will house the two volumes with the 1992-93 Annual,Report. However, over the long run, if the LOD decides what it wants to do with is, I don't believe the Annual Report is the best tracking vehicle. BG:kn attachment
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Permit No...

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AMA>< COAL \NEST, INC.
A SubsidIary 01 AMAX CoaIIncUtrIeI, Inc.

eAMA>
Mr. Bob Giurgevich
Wyoming Department of Environmeniat Quality Land Quality Division 2161 Coffeen Ave. Sheridan WY 82801 Re: 1993 Annual Report for Permit 428-1'2.

EAGLE BUTTE MINE

December 17, 1993

Dear Bob, Enclosed are two (2) complete copies of the 1993 Annual Report which is submitted in fulfillment of W.S. 35-11-411 (a). Appropriate copies of this report are being submitted to the Office of Surface Mining, Denver, Colorado. This Annual Report includes the Reclamation Performance Bond Estimate for the Eagle Butte Mine as per W.S. 35-11-417(c)(ii). Also included this year are two (2) copies of the Reclamation History of the Eagle Butte Mine from 1976 through 1992. This history is presented as a two volume set. The basis for the reclamation history is found in WDEQ-LQD Guideline No. 14. Thus, the information provided in the reclamation history is of substantially greater detail than is required by WDEQ-LQD Rules and Regulations Chapter IV, Section 3(d)(vii). As in previous years, revegetation monitoring for the current year (1993) is presented in the Annual Report text. Current year monitoring data become "history" one year after the data are collected.

If you have any questions on this submittal, please do not hesitate to call me.

-iJc.7J-~
Neil C. Hutten Sr. ·Environmentalist cc: Bill Boger Frank Ferris Ken Kehn Steve Youngbauer

Sincerely

PennitNo,.

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10023 Highway 14-16· P.O. Box 3040· Gillette,Wyoming 82717-3040.307687-3300. FAX 687-3370

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EAGLE BUTTE MINE

RECLAMATION HISTORY AMAX COAL WEST, INC.

Prepared by: D.G. Steward Marlys M. Hansen

16 December 1993
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EAGLE BUTTE MINE

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Introduction

RECLAMATION HISTORY

This reclamation history is a database of monitoring and assessment information collected at the Eagle Butte Mine since reclamation began in 1976. The Eagle Butte reclamation history database serves as the definitive source for date of permanent reclamation, date of last permanent revegetation, revegetation practices, and for data from revegetation, topsoil fertility, and backfill geochemistry sampling. The database was assembled from data records, by interviewing personnel, and by reviewing annual reports, earthmoving contract specifications, and revegetation packages. The database is updated annually at the time of the annual report.

The release of reclamation bonds is based on both on quantitative and qualitative evaluations of reclamation success. Evaluation of reclamation success is difficult without accurate and comprehensive records of reclamation activities. In addition to /
)

assisting with bond release evaluations, sampling information included as part of the reclamation history provides feedback for current revegetation practices, and thus allows for their continual improvement.

The reclamation history database is large and continually expanding. Initial preparation of this history required review of over fifteen years of information, standardization and computerization of the information, and presentation of that information. To date, over 1000 man-hours have been spent on assembly of the history.

The database resulting from these efforts is a very large array, each point of which having as an "x" coordinate a State Plane easting, and as a

'Y' coordinate a State

Plane northing. This identifies the geographic location of the array point. There are multiple
liZ"

values at each point, ranging from revegetation practices through the

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levels of various geochemical parameters such as pH or nitrate-nitrogen. -) Revegetation practices constitute a large part of the data array. Eventually, on the basis of volume alone, the data set will be dominated by vegetation sampling data.

Regulatory Requirements
This reclamation history is based on several WDEQ-LQD regulatory requirements. In June 1991, two regulations requiring revegetation monitoring were promulgated:

Chapter II, Section 3(b)(v)(C), IIA plan for monitoring permanent revegetation on reclaimed areas, specifically including quantitative sampling, as required by Chapter IV, Section 3(d)(vii)"; and

Chapter IV, Section 3(d)(vii), "Monitoring of permanent revegetation on reclaimed areas before and after grazing shall be conducted at intervals throughout the period prior to bond release in accordance with the plan required by Chapter II, Section 3(b)(v)(C). Monitoring results shall be presented in the annual report."

WDEQ-LQD Guideline No. 14 (Appendix A) was developed to elaborate the expectations of WDEQ-LQD with respect to compliance with these regulations. The guideline sets forth the relationship between baseline inventory of vegetation resources, revegetation monitoring, grazing land use, and bond release evaluation. The guideline also sets forth the components of a monitoring program.

Guideline No. 14 requires sampling of all revegetation units with IIsimilar history and seeded with similar seed mixesll • The areas to be sampled should be "grouped according to logical parameters such as time of seeding, seed mixtures used, topography, etc. Accurate records regarding the complete reclamation history (including post-seeding management practices) of each revegetated area should be maintained by the operator and included in the Annual Report.1I The guideline also

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requires that husbandry practices be recorded. Revegetation monitoring during the
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bonding period must include cover and production information, and at least one sample for every ten acres is required.

Guideline No. 14 represents a substantial increase in regulatory requirements for data collection, data storage, data interpretation, and data retrieval. For a mine such as Eagle Butte, data storage for the items required by Guideline No. 14 encompasses a text similar in magnitude to the Eagle Butte WOEQ-LQO Annual Report.

Components of the Reclamation History
The elements of the reclamation history are designed to accommodate the artificial distinction between mining and reclamation. In general, reclamation history is considered to start at the time regraded backfill is topsoiled and the topsoil prepared for revegetation. Backfill replacement and grading are considered as part of the mining process. Thus, the first element of the history of permanent reclamation at Eagle Butte is the date of permanent reclamation, which is based primarily on the date of topsoil replacement.

Before topsoil can be replaced, the suitability of the top four feet of backfill must be assessed. Thus, backfill geochemistry is the second element of the reclamation history. This information is required as part of the Eagle Butte Mine Permit.

The third element of the reclamation history is topsoil fertility. As required by Wyoming performance standards (WOEQ-LQO Rules and Regulations, Chapter IV, Section 2(c)(i)(C», and the Eagle Butte permit, topsoil fertility must be assessed where topsoil has been stockpiled for more than one year. The fourth element of the history, which currently comprises the bulk of the database, are the revegetation

practices for all permanently reclaimed units. These practices are presented by
season and by year.
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The fifth element of the reclamation history is revegetation sampling information, and

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the final element is grazing practices. Because vegetation sampling was only initiated in 1993 and grazing has not yet been initiated, there is not yet any information on these elements in the Eagle Butte Reclamation History.

Date of Permanent Reclamation

The date of permanent reclamation is defined primarily by the date of topsoil repJacement. On areas, either stripped or unstripped, where topsoil has been stockpiled, the date of final surface preparation following elimination of the stockpile defines permanent reclamation. Similarly, for areas where topsoil has never been removed or been required to be replaced, such as pre-SMCRA reclamation or nonconstructed light-use roads, permanent reclamation is defined by the date of final surface preparation prior to seeding.

Topsoil placement and final surface preparation were selected to define the date of permanent reclamation because, except in very rare circumstances, topsoil
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replacement and final surface preparation are only done once. However, redisturbance of an area would redefine the "Date of Permanent Reclamation". In contrast to permanent reclamation, revegetation may be, and often is, conducted over a span of years. Drought, pest infestations, and seed failures all contribute to multiple revegetation efforts.

The "Date of Permanent Reclamation" map can be found in Volume II of the Reclamation History. This map shows the date of permanent reclamation by year. The map was assembled by interviewing personnel, and by reviewing annual reports, earthmoving contract specifications, and revegetation activities. Two digit numbers on the map refer to the year of topsoil replacement or final surface preparation. Table 1 presents acres of permanent reclamation by year. Earliest permanent reclamation was 1976. To date, there are 449.5 acres of permanent reclamation;the LA N 0 QUA LIT Y 0 I V I S ION
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year with the most permanent reclamation is 1991.

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Table 1 Permanent Reclamation

YEAR

ACRES

1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992
TOTAL

5.9 3.4 19.0 18.3 9.5 3.4 1.0 1.8 3.5 18.5 9.7 49.5 0 33.6 66 126.6 79.8 449.5

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Backfill Geochemistry
-') Geochemical information is collected in 0-2' and 2-4' intervals from backfill on 400foot centers. The cumulative backfill database is presented in Appendix B. Backfill sample locations are given on the map in Volume II.

Topsoil Fertility
Topsoil fertility is assessed in accordance with regulatory and permit requirements since the inception of the WDEQ-LQD regulatory program. Fertility samples are collected in the backfill on 500-foot centers in those areas over which stockpiled topsoil has been spread. Fertility results can be found in Appendix C. Sample locations are shown on the map in Volume II. The information collected through the assessment program has been used to determine fertilization rates, which are in turn reported in the revegetation practices.

Topsoil fertility results indicate that soils in the Eagle Butte Mine area are typically deficient in available phosphorus and nitrogen, but typically not deficient in

)

potassium. Such characteristics are representative of the Powder River Basin and the Northern Great Plains a whole.

Revegetation Practices
Permanent revegetation has occurred at the Eagle Butte Mine since 1976. Revegetation activities are conducted in the spring and the fall. Therefore each year has two seasons for which information is available. Permanent revegetation has three categories: permanent, functionally permanent, and husbandry.

Permanent revegetation practices are recorded any time seeding is conducted with the intention that the seeding will serve as the basis for the postmining grazing land use. In most cases, seeding is for the postmining land use of grazing land. However, seeding also occurs for agricultural uses such as pasture land and cropland. Thus, seeding of annual grains, in some cases, is "perIDaOB~'u All T Y D I V I S ION

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Functionally permanent revegetation practices are those that occur when the initial -) intention was for long-term temporary seeding, but where time has shown that the seeding will serve as the basis for the postmining land use.

The most typical example of functionally permanent revegetation is revegetation of road ditches and rights-of-way that were initially seeded for stabilization, but where the road has been incorporated into the postmining land use and the vegetation has become well established. There is little likelihood in such a case that the ditches of rights-of-way will be re-disturbed.

Husbandry records are included with permanent and functionally permanent practices so that a record of such husbandry exists. Husbandry in an area does not re-initiate the bond time period, and is thus fundamentally different from permanent and functionally permanent practices.

According to Chapter IV, 3.,(d),(vi) (1989 WDEQ-LQD regulations), ''The bonding period shall not be affected where normal and reasonably good husbandry practices are being followed." Normal and reasonably good husbandry practices in Campbell County include grazing, burning, mowing, haying, and interseeding.

The record of revegetation activities is presented in Appendix D. Maps showing the location of each unit for each season of each year are presented in Volume II.

Through the course of time, initial permanent or functionally permanent revegetation may be overlaid by later permanent practices. This occurs most often as a result of re-cultivation. For example, failure of warm season grasses is not uncommon, and limited re-cultivation followed by re-seeding may occur in otherwise successfully revegetated areas. Re-cultivation is necessary in the case of warm season grasses for limiting competition with cool season grasses. Re-cultivation restarts the ten-year period of bond retention that begins at the completion of permanent or functionally

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permanent seeding.

Thus, between initial permanent and functionally permanent, and subsequent permanent or functionally permanent activities, a complex array of revegetation practices develops through time for the reclaimed landscape. Units in the array have overlapping and changing boundaries through time, which are difficult to represent visually. However, there is only one date from which the period of bond retention is calculated for each array point, and that is the last date of permanent or functionally permanent revegetation. A map showing "Date of Last Permanent or Functionally Permanent Revegetation" may be found in Volume II.

There are numerous actions within the categories of permanent or functionally permanent revegetation and husbandry. These include burning, cultivating, conditioning, fertilizing, haying, interseeding, mowing, planting, rolling before seeding, rolling after seeding, rock-picking, snowfencing, and transplanting. Appendix E summarizes the acres for each task so far completed within permanent revegetation, functionally permanent revegetation, and husbandry.

12.2 acres of tasks have been covered under husbandry throughout the report period; 307.1 acres have been covered under functionally permanent throughout the report period; and 636.2 acres have been covered under permanent revegetation during the report period. Comparing these figures to the acres of permanent reclamation given in Table 1 indicates the degree to which the permanently reclaimed surfaces are worked and reworked.

Revegetation Monitoring
The purpose of revegetation monitoring is to ascertain the progress that has been made toward postmining land use goals. In addition, and as a result of monitoring, modifications and additions can be made to revegetation practices in order to enhance the achievement of those goals. The first quantitative sc:lrAfjlJtJg2 YfA l 'T Y 0 I V I S I 0 ~
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permanent revegetation at Eagle Butte was conducted in summer 1993. Results of that sampling are included in the 1993 Annual Report.

Grazing Practices

Although grazing has not yet begun on reclaimed lands at Eagle Butte, it will be conducted in the future. Grazing is used to improve the cover, distribution, and diversity of vegetation, and to re-incorporate reclaimed lands with other ranching activities. Once grazing has begun on reclaimed lands at the Eagle Butte Mine, the long-term effects of the grazing program can be monitored in the vegetation database that is part of this reclamation history.
Concluding Remarks

This reclamation history summarizes all revegetation activities, including grazing and husbandry, that have occurred at the Eagle Butte Mine. It presents all the data from vegetation, topsoil fertility, and backfill sampling programs. The reclamation history provides the information necessary to compute the time remaining for retention of ") reclamation bonds, and includes the information required by law to document the condition of the revegetation throughout the period of bond retention. The reclamation history will be the source of information needed when bond release is sought.

The reclamation history is a companion to the annual report, and, like the annual report, will be revised and submitted each year. The scope and nature of the reclamation history may change with changes in regulatory requirements.

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