Applications sought for mine-reclamation projects

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Wanted: Unique projects to turn old coal mine communities into job-producing centers.

That’s the message from the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, which is seeking economic and community development proposals that will attract new industry and jobs to Kentucky’s Appalachian counties.

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According to the state, the 2020 Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program has $25 million in federal grant money for projects in counties with historic coal mining sites that will create long-term economic benefits.

In its fifth year, 43 projects in 21 counties have been selected for the pilot program.

Notable projects include a high-tech training facility in Johnson County, a drone R&D and test facility in Perry and Knott counties, a sport-shooting and archery resort park in Letcher County, the Impact Outdoor campground in Clay County, the Pikeville Medical Center Pediatric Clinic and the Appalachian Wildlife Center in Bell County.

Applications are being accepted by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet through Aug. 1, 2020.

Since 2016, 43 projects in 21 counties have been selected for the pilot program.

Fifth District U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers has championed $540 million in federal funding for the AML Pilot program since 2016, of which $130 million has been awarded to Kentucky.

“This funding provides a launching pad for economic development in parts of Eastern Kentucky where we face the greatest challenges to job creation,” Rogers said. “Our former coal mining land helped fuel our economy for generations and this program aims to restore some of the same land to help create jobs and promote tourism growth in our region once again.”

Eligible counties include Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Greenup, Harlan, Hart, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Wayne, Whitley and Wolfe.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman said the programs most recent success, the Impact Outdoor campground, would bring adventure tourism to Clay County.

“We are beginning to see projects that received AML Pilot grant funding in past years start to produce jobs or bring tourism dollars to eastern Kentucky,” Goodman said.

Eligible grant recipients are limited to state and local governments, who may subcontract project-related activities as appropriate.

Proposals should include information about the projects purpose, link to AML, cost, partnerships and/or leveraged funds (if applicable) and any evidence of community improvement and support. All will be considered by a Cabinet-sponsored committee before recommended projects are sent to the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, for vetting and a final decision.

Application forms for project submittals can be found at AMLPILOT or by contacting Bob Scott, Director, Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, 300 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort, KY 40601. Office: 502-782-6761, e-mail: BobF.Scott@ky.gov or Justin Adams, email: Justin.Adams@ky.gov.