The U.S. Department of Interior has pegged Trapper Mine for national honors to be presented during ceremonies tomorrow.
Trapper Mine, a surface coal mining operation south of Craig, will be named among the nation's three-best examples of mined land reclamation in the 25-year history of federal surface mining laws administered by the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining, according to a news release from Trapper Mine.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton will present the award to Trapper Mine officials Wednesday during ceremonies in Washington D.C., marking the 25th anniversary of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
Trapper Mine will receive the "bronze award," while mines in Indiana and North Dakota will also be honored, according to the Office of Surface Mining.
Mike Gauldin, communications director with the Office of Surface Mining in Washington D.C., said "several hundred" mines nationally have been recognized for reclamation excellence since enactment of the 1977 law.
"(Trapper) has been deemed to be one of the best of all time," Gauldin said. "Mines since the law was enacted have been required to put land back into usable shape after mining was finished."
Criteria include long-term reclamation benefits to the community and the difficulty involved in that, and, whether efforts "exceed the spirit and intent" of 1977 law, Gauldin said, adding a panel of roughly a half-dozen Office of Surface Mining employees in Washington D.C. and Denver made the selections.
The honor is open only to previous national reclamation award winners. Trapper Mine won national honors in 1991.
Such awards highlight the mines' reclamation and environmental compliance. Big game numbers, as measured by aerial surveys conducted by Trapper Mine, have shown a ten-fold increase in elk since the mine started in 1997, while Pronghorn antelope have increased "several hundred" from none, according to the mine.
The mine also points to the Colombian sharp-tailed grouse as thriving on reclaimed lands, and its support of research on the behavior and population trends of the grouse, which has been declining over much of the western United States.
Trapper Mine covers some 10,300 permitted acres. Mining along the northern end of the Williams Fork Mountains recovers seems of coal that are delivered to Tri-State Generation and Transmission.