Lone Mountain NRDAR Tipple Site Riparian Restoration and Outdoor Classroom Restoration

Background information.— The Powell and Clinch Rivers provide vital habitat for many forms of wildlife and are inhabited by one of the world’s richest and most diverse assemblages of freshwater mussels (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003). The rivers are also multiple-use recreation areas and a valuable water source that supplies water for the residents of Lee County, Virginia. The Lone Mountain coal slurry spill released sediment and hazardous substances affecting water quality and impacting 12 Federally listed mussels and critical habitat for 2 Federally listed fish. Fish and mussel habitat depends on the riparian habitats surrounding the river. In order to recover lost fish and mussel habitat, the Lone Mountain Natural Resource ... Show More

Background information.— The Powell and Clinch Rivers provide vital habitat for many forms of wildlife and are inhabited by one of the world’s richest and most diverse assemblages of freshwater mussels (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003). The rivers are also multiple-use recreation areas and a valuable water source that supplies water for the residents of Lee County, Virginia. The Lone Mountain coal slurry spill released sediment and hazardous substances affecting water quality and impacting 12 Federally listed mussels and critical habitat for 2 Federally listed fish. 

Fish and mussel habitat depends on the riparian habitats surrounding the river. In order to recover lost fish and mussel habitat, the Lone Mountain Natural Resource Damage Assessment restoration plan calls for protection and enhancement of riparian habitat by stabilizing stream banks and planting riparian buffers. By restoring the natural riparian structure and function, these restoration activities can enhance natural mussel and fish recovery and improve water quality. The restoration plan also calls for educational outreach to enhance community knowledge of natural resources and to promote their protection and conservation.

One example of a restoration project that achieved these objectives took place in the Stone Creek community of Lee County, where many partners came together to reclaim and restore a stretch of stream habitat and transform the site of a former coal tipple yard into an outdoor classroom and park. The project at the Tipple site was implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in coordination with the Upper Tennessee River Roundtable and many community and funding partners.

To remediate the Tipple site, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy removed coal facilities and loading structures and capped the site with a 2-foot layer of soil. To restore the stream, fill material was added to the streambank and rootwads were installed to provide fish habitat. Trash, debris, and invasive species were removed from the site, and streambanks were stabilized using matting and native vegetation. A 25-foot-wide riparian corridor was established with native vegetation along the length of the property, and a wetland was constructed where the site naturally drains. An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team helped remove invasive plants and install riparian plantings; local organizations, businesses, and community members worked together to plant trees and construct an outdoor classroom and a trail in the park. The outdoor classroom features eight learning stations to help students learn about wetlands and the history of coal mining in the area.

Background information on the Tipple site restoration for the Lone Mountain NRDAR settlement was obtained from Carol Doss, Upper Tennessee River Roundtable, written commun., 2015; and from Lone Mountain NRDAR case documents at http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/orda_docs/CaseDetails?ID=914.
 
Economic impacts.—The Tipple site remediation and restoration project began in 2011 and was completed in 2014 with a total project cost of $214,000 (2014 dollars). Of these expenditures, $45,000 went towards purchasing the site; this amount is not included in the economic impact analysis. Of the remaining expenditures of $169,000, more than 65 percent was spent within the local area surrounding Lee County, and five local companies were contracted to work on the project. Including direct and secondary effects, the project supported an estimated 1.7 job-years; $62,000 in labor income; $88,000 in value added; and $169,000 in economic output in the local economy surrounding Lee County. Expanding to include both local and nonlocal expenditures, the project supported an estimated total of 3.0 job-years; $164,000 in labor income; $244,000 in value added; and $421,000 in economic output in the national economy.

References Cited
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003, Final restoration plan and environmental assessment for the Lone Mountain Processing Inc. Coal Slurry Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 48 p., accessed May1, 2015, at http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/orda_docs/DocHandler.ashx?ID=517. Show Less

Contact(s): Catherine M Cullinane Thomas, Christopher C Huber.

Overview

Project Period: 2011-2014

Location: Virginia

Restoration Type: Riparian restoration,Education and Community Use Project

Lead Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,The Upper Tennessee River Roundtable

Economic Impacts
National Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Total Project Expenditures: $169,000


Job-Years: 3.0 (17.8 per $1M)

Labor Income: $164,000 ($970K per $1M)

Value Added: $244,000 ($1.4M per $1M)

Economic Output: $421,000 ($2.5M per $1M)

Local Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Local Project Expenditures: $109,000

Percent of Project Expenditures Spent Locally: 65%

Local Job-Years: 1.7

Local Labor Income: $62,000

Local Value Added: $88,000

Local Economic Output: $169,000

Big Picture
Main Project: Lone Mountain NRDAR Settlement in the Powell River Watershed

In October 1996, a coal slurry impoundment associated with a coal processing plant owned by Lone Mountain Processing, Inc., in Lee County, Virginia, failed and released six million gallons of coal slurry into the Powell River watershed. “Blackwater,” a mixture of water, coal fines, clay, and associated contaminants, extended more than 20 miles downstream from the spill site. The Powell River watershed is part of the Upper Tennessee River Basin, which comprises one of the nation’s most biologically diverse aquatic ecosystems (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003). The coal slurry spill affected fish, endangered freshwater mussels, other stream organisms, and supporting aquatic habitat, including designated critical habitat for two Federally ... Show More

In October 1996, a coal slurry impoundment associated with a coal processing plant owned by Lone Mountain Processing, Inc., in Lee County, Virginia, failed and released six million gallons of coal slurry into the Powell River watershed. “Blackwater,” a mixture of water, coal fines, clay, and associated contaminants, extended more than 20 miles downstream from the spill site. The Powell River watershed is part of the Upper Tennessee River Basin, which comprises one of the nation’s most biologically diverse aquatic ecosystems (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003). The coal slurry spill affected fish, endangered freshwater mussels, other stream organisms, and supporting aquatic habitat, including designated critical habitat for two Federally listed fish—the yellowfin madtom ( Noturus flavipinnis) and the slender chub ( Erimystax cahni). A Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) settlement required that Lone Mountain Processing, Inc., pay $2,450,000 in damages for the natural resource injuries caused by the slurry spill to restore fish, mussels, and the habitats that support them. As part of this settlement, more than 500 acres of riparian land in southwestern Virginia have been preserved in partnership with The Nature Conservancy to protect habitat for aquatic organisms and other species, such as bats and songbirds.
This case study tells the story of five restoration projects in the Upper Tennessee River Basin that were supported by the Lone Mountain NRDAR settlement and the economic activity generated through expenditures on these projects. The highlighted restoration projects include: two mussel and fish propagation and reintroduction projects that are working to replace freshwater mussels and fish species killed during the spill, two instream and riparian restoration projects designed to provide fish and mussel habitat and to provide recreation and education opportunities in Lee County, and one acid mine drainage abatement project designed to improve water quality in the watershed. Figure 1-1 shows a map of the spill site and the five highlighted restoration projects. The U.S. Geological Survey collected data on restoration activities and expenditures to estimate the economic activity supported by these restoration projects.
Background information on the Lone Mountain NRDAR settlement was obtained from Anne Condon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Virginia Field Office, written commun., 2015; and from Lone Mountain NRDAR case documents at http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/orda_docs/CaseDetails?ID=914. Show Less

Realted Case Studies:
Map
Images
A Lee Count Career and Technical Center Natural Resources Class Planted Trees.jpg
Community Members Make Stepping Stones at Day Camp.jpg
Tripple Site - After Restoration.jpg
Tripple Site - Before Restoration.jpg
Sciencebase URL: https://www.sciencebase.gov/catalog/item/55b7ef03e4b09a3b01b60497
Powered by ScienceBase