Sproul State Forest ATV Trail Closing Amid Mine Reclamation Project in PA

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Bloody Skillet

Bloody Skillet

Harrisburg – The start of a large-scale, abandoned mine reclamation project in Sproul State Forest will necessitate closing the entire Whiskey Springs ATV Trail, effective at sundown Sunday, Sept. 8, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials announced today.

Construction begins Monday, Sept. 9, on the $12.2 million Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) project, covering 100 acres in Leidy and Noyes townships, Clinton County. The Huling Branch reclamation effort is designed to reduce acid mine drainage and eliminate public health and safety concerns related to dangerous highwalls.

“Originally, we had hoped to keep the western half of the Whiskey Springs ATV trail open in a diminished capacity for the length of the remediation project,” said Sproul State Forest District Forester Douglas D’Amore. “However, after meeting yesterday with the contractor, DEP and local officials, it is evident heavy truck and equipment traffic and the impending construction start require an early and complete closure.” “Safety of all concerned is the driving force in this decision,” D’Amore said. “The contractor has noted as many as 40 to 50 large trucks a day could be traveling on roads to and from the job site. In addition there are operational efficiency and job site security issues to be considered.”

DCNR officials offered the nearby Bloody Skillet ATV Trail as an alternative for ATV enthusiasts, as it offers a similar experience.

Also, the Denton Hill ATV Trail System, located 45 minutes to the north, is another alternative. Maps, directions and other details can be found on the DCNR website: www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select “Forestry”, then “Recreation”).

One of 11 ATV trails on state forest lands across the state, Whiskey Springs stretches 45 miles through Sproul State Forest, beginning near Westport, Clinton County. The 305,450-acre forest is also home to the nearby 39-mile Bloody Skillet ATV Trail.

Closing the Whiskey Springs trail will better enable DCNR to complete needed trail rehabilitation work, such as improved erosion and sedimentation controls and trail surface restoration. Also, the remediation effort will result in the reconstruction of about 8,500 feet of the trail. About 54 acres will be re-vegetated with 48,150 tree seedlings and an additional 47 acres will be re-vegetated with wildlife habitat grasses.

Huling Branch work also will include backfilling of about 6,000 linear feet of dangerous highwall, 40- to 70-feet high, and one adjacent spoil area. The spoil material will be graded into the pits to return the surface mine site to its original contour.

The project will use more than $756,000 in Growing Greener funding to implement a source remediation plan aimed at reducing acid mine drainage pollution originating from the site. The money will be used to purchase 370,000 tons of alkaline material to neutralize highly acidic mine spoil, including about 15,000 tons of coal refuse material improperly placed within pit areas throughout the site. In addition, about 137,000 tons of crop coal around the perimeter of the reclamation area will be removed, along with 17,500 tons of buried coal refuse along sections of the existing highwall.

The reclamation work, undertaken by L.R. Costanzo Co. Inc. of Scranton, will be completed by Sept. 3, 2015.

For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us or call 717-783-2267. For details on Sproul State Forest, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select “Find a Forest”).