Seneca Mine awarded for land restoration

The U.S. Department of the Interior has honored a local mine for its efforts in restoring land in a "condition equal to or better" than before mining operations began.

Seneca Mine near Hayden, which is owned by Peabody Energy based in St. Louis, was awarded Thursday night at the annual Surface Coal Mining Reclamation Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Peabody Energy is one of the world's largest private sector coal companies.

The mine, which ended more than 40 years of excavation operations in 2005, was lauded for Excellence in Surface Mining and a Reclamation National Award for collaborating with Colorado State University on a five-year study to restore oak brush and shrubs.

As part of the study, Seneca Mine grew native seeds in nurseries to make them more adaptable to environmental conditions before planting.

It has also planted more than 100,000 shrubs in the past 11 years.

The mine site is now used for grazing and a wildlife habitat.

Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton said the company has a long-standing history of restoring lands to a better-than-before condition.

In many cases, former mine lands are "four times more productive after reclamation," she said.

In 2005, according to Peabody executives, the company invested "hundreds of millions of dollars in reclamation activities, restored nearly 4,600 acres of land and planted more than 700,000 trees."

Also honored by the department of the interior Thursday was Craig resident Roy Karo, the reclamation manager at the Seneca Mine site, for an almost 30-year career in developing the best practices for reclamation.

Karo was awarded with the Best of the Best Award.

"It's a very prestigious award," Sutton said of Karo's honor. "He has developed a number of innovative processes to make land more productive. ... He was competing against all surface mine operations in the country. This is a testament to his excellence in reclamation."

According to its company profile, Peabody Energy products provide fuel for about 10 percent of all U.S. and 3 percent of worldwide electricity.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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