Lone Mountain NRDAR Pennington Gap Riparian Restoration and Community Park Development Restoration

Background information.—To restore fish and mussel habitat lost in the Lone Mountain coal slurry spill, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) plan calls for riparian habitat restoration to improve existing stream conditions, particularly by stabilizing streambanks in problem areas and planting appropriate riparian buffers throughout the watershed. The Powell River runs through Leeman Field Park in Pennington Gap, Virginia, the largest population center near the Lone Mountain spill site. Through this reach, the river experienced streambank erosion and loss of instream habitat because of channel instability, changes in stormwater runoff, and loss of riparian vegetation along the streambank. Using Lone Mountain ... Show More

Background information.—To restore fish and mussel habitat lost in the Lone Mountain coal slurry spill, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) plan calls for riparian habitat restoration to improve existing stream conditions, particularly by stabilizing streambanks in problem areas and planting appropriate riparian buffers throughout the watershed.
The Powell River runs through Leeman Field Park in Pennington Gap, Virginia, the largest population center near the Lone Mountain spill site. Through this reach, the river experienced streambank erosion and loss of instream habitat because of channel instability, changes in stormwater runoff, and loss of riparian vegetation along the streambank.

Using Lone Mountain NRDAR settlement funds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Upper Tennessee River Roundtable, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and several other community and business partners worked together to restore more than 700 feet of the Powell River running through Leeman Field. Streambanks were stabilized by using natural bioengineering techniques, and riffle and pool sequences were created to provide diverse streambed fish and mussel habitat. Upland areas were treated to remove invasive plants, and more than 1,000 native trees and other native vegetation were planted. In the restored reach, streamflow is now increased during normal flows and adequate flood storage is maintained during storm events.
In addition to improving stream health, the Leeman Field river restoration project added recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to Lee County. The City of Pennington Gap is constructing a 1.5-mile greenway trail parallel to the stream. The stream restoration and trail will provide outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, biking, and fishing, as well as community outreach and education about the importance of riparian health for water quality and instream habitat.
 
Background information on the Pennington Gap 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.—Planning for the Pennington Gap riparian restoration project began in 2011 and restoration was completed in 2014 at a cost of $93,000 (2014 dollars). Many of the materials needed for the restoration, such as rocks, trees, straw, and gasoline, were purchased locally, and more than 50 percent of direct project expenditures were spent within the local economy. During the course of the project, the Pennington Gap riparian restoration project is estimated to have supported 0.9 total job-years; $27,000 in labor income; $34,000 in value added; and $86,000 in economic output in the local economy. Expanding to include both local and nonlocal expenditures, this project supported an estimated 1.6 total job-years; $95,000 in labor income; $138,000 in value added; and $239,000 in economic output in the national economy. Restoration of the stream has long-term benefits beyond these immediate economic impacts, including valuable ecological services such as improved wildlife habitat, floodwater control, erosion control, intrinsic values, aesthetic values, and ecotourism values.
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Contact(s): Catherine M Cullinane Thomas, Christopher C Huber.

Overview

Project Period: 2011-2014

Location: Virginia

Restoration Type: Education and Community Use Project,Riparian restoration

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

Economic Impacts
National Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Total Project Expenditures: $93,000


Job-Years: 1.6 (17.2 per $1M)

Labor Income: $95,000 ($1.0M per $1M)

Value Added: $138,000 ($1.5M per $1M)

Economic Output: $239,000 ($2.6M per $1M)

Local Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Local Project Expenditures: $47,000

Percent of Project Expenditures Spent Locally: 51%

Local Job-Years: 0.9

Local Labor Income: $27,000

Local Value Added: $34,000

Local Economic Output: $86,000

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

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Images
A National Civilian Conservation Corp Team Assists with Planting.jpg
Pennington Gap Middle School Students Plant Trees.jpg
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