Multispecies and Watershed Approaches to Freshwater Fish Conservation

An Approach for Implementing Large-Scale Watershed Restoration Efforts: Abandoned Mine Drainage Restoration in the West Branch Susquehanna River Watershed, Pennsylvania

Shawn M. Rummel and Amy G. Wolfe

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874578.ch20

Abstract.—Historic coal mining operations throughout the United States left behind a legacy of waterways polluted by abandoned mine drainage (AMD). Streams polluted by AMD typically have low pH and high concentrations of heavy metals such as aluminum, iron, and manganese, creating toxic environments for aquatic organisms and causing many of these environments to be devoid of aquatic life. This chapter details the large-scale restoration efforts underway since 2004 in the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed in north-central Pennsylvania to remediate AMD. It provides an overview of the historical coal mining throughout the watershed and the types of restoration projects that have been completed. The importance of establishing and maintaining partnerships for large-scale restoration projects is emphasized along with a discussion on how these projects have been monitored and maintained to ensure restoration success. This chapter aims to provide guidance in the development of other large-scale restoration projects through the lessons learned over the past 15 years of restoration in the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed.