Leveraging AMLER Federal Funds to Revitalize Abandoned Mine Lands

Mar 26, 2024

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is responsible for managing the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). OSMRE protects citizens and the environment, particularly in Appalachian communities, from the adverse impacts of historical coal mining by overseeing the reclamation of abandoned coal mines and by supporting mining-impacted communities.

Redeveloping abandoned mine lands (AMLs) can transform mine-scarred lands in rural Appalachia into community assets. Redevelopment of these lands can create jobs, stabilize and increase the local population, generate local revenue, improve public health, and beautify local lands.

The Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program, formerly known as the AML Pilot Program, is a federally funded program geared towards supporting local investment
opportunities to sustainably redevelop AMLs. It is available to private sector investors, non-profits, and municipal and county governments in Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Projects in the tribal lands of the Crow Tribe, Hopi Tribe, and the Navajo Nation are also eligible under the AMLER Program.

In February 2024, OSMRE announced that over $74 million in AMLER funding would be available for the 2023 Fiscal Year. Downstream Strategies has a successful track record of assisting clients and communities with AMLER grant applications. In addition to writing applications for potential AML projects, we have performed land-use planning, identified innovative redevelopment strategies, and conducted feasibility studies. We have also performed NEPA environmental assessments for several AMLER grant recipients once grant funding has been awarded. Click here to view a guide to FY 2023 AMLER project eligibility.

If you have an AML project that you’d like to discuss or if you would like to explore our supporting services for AMLER projects, please contact us

For those interested in the general process of redeveloping AMLs, check out the list below:

  1. Site Assessment and Planning
        • Identify the AMLs that need redevelopment.
        • Conduct site assessments to determine the extent of contamination, ecological damage, and other issues. Develop a comprehensive plan for redevelopment that considers environmental, social, and economic factors.
  2. Environmental Remediation
        • Remediate any contamination present on the site. This may involve removing hazardous materials, treating contaminated soil or water, or other methods.
        • Ensure that the remediation process is environmentally sound and complies with relevant regulations.
  3. Ecological Restoration
        • Restore ecosystems that were damaged by mining activities.
        • Reintroduce native vegetation, wildlife, and other components of the natural habitat.
        • Consider the long-term sustainability of the restored ecosystem.
  4. Infrastructure Development
        • Develop infrastructure that supports the site’s new use. This may include roads, utilities, and other necessary facilities.
        • Ensure that the infrastructure is designed to minimize environmental impact.
  5. Recreation and Public Use
        • Determine how the redeveloped site will be used by the public. This may include recreational activities, educational programs, or other uses.
        • Ensure that the site is accessible to the public and that safety measures are in place.
  6.  Economic Development
        • Consider how the redevelopment of the site can contribute to the local economy.
        • Explore opportunities for job creation, tourism, or other economic benefits.
  7. Community Engagement
        • Engage with the local community throughout the redevelopment process.
        • Seek input from community members on the site’s redevelopment and address any concerns or suggestions.
  8. Funding and Resources
        • Secure the necessary funding and resources to support the redevelopment efforts. AMLER grants or other funding sources may be used.

Every AML site is unique, and the specific steps and considerations for redevelopment will vary depending on the site’s characteristics and the desired outcome.