Local News

May 30, 2013

NRCS updating list of local abandoned mines

OSKALOOSA — Mahaska County has a rich history of coal mining. Starting in the 1840s, people began to pursue the coal that underlay the fertile farm ground in Southeastern Iowa.

The coal that was mined in these early years was primarily done by cutting tunnels into the hills to retrieve the coal. This continued through the early 1900s until the development of machinery which was large enough to remove the surface of the earth to access the coal. This practice is known as surface mining.

Surface mining is often detrimental to water quality and local wildlife populations.

Iowa coal is no longer mined due to its inability to meet the EPA’s emission standards. This is due to its high concentrations of sulfur. Even though Iowa coal is no longer burned, this excess sulfur is still causing environmental issues right here at home. When iron sulfide is exposed to air and water, it reacts to form iron oxide — rust — and sulfuric acid. The iron oxide and sulfuric acid then often runs off into surface water. These compounds can turn creeks and streams into a lifeless flow of acid — sometimes as low as 2.0 pH.

Aside from the impacts to drinking water, these old mine sites can be dangerous to livestock herds and even human life. Associated with these sites there is often a sudden drop off upwards of 80 feet. This drop off is referred to as the highwall. This is where the excavator took the last vertical cut into the hillside.

As gloomy as it sounds, there is hope to improve stream quality. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Office of Surface Mining is allotted several million dollars annually to reclaim these sites. Reclamation entails reshaping the area to what is believed to be the natural lay of the land then liming the residual soil until it attains a pH tolerable for plant growth. A huge assortment of seed is then broadcast across the area in order to regain a ground cover. The reclamation process can be long and costly but is free to the landowner. The expenses of reclamation are picked up by the state of Iowa.

In the early 1900s, records were poor and no account was ever taken on the location of all these mine sites. Today, officials are attempting to update the inventory of surface mines here in Mahaska County. This will allow them to make better management decisions concerning the many streams and rivers in Southeast Iowa. They have what they believe to be an extensive inventory of the abandoned mines in Mahaska County but there in undoubtedly some they are unaware of.

If you are interested in reclamation or believe you have an abandoned coal mine on your land, inform officials of its location by calling the Mahaska County NRCS office at 673-3476 Ext. 3. Understand that by reporting your mine site in no way will it require you to reclaim the site nor will it add any burden to you as a landowner. The NRCS simply just would like to update their inventory to better understand the environmental impacts of mining in Mahaska County.


Text Only
Local News
  • Judge rules in favor of city in water board trustee removal

    August 1, 2014

  • Movie on the Barn set for Saturday OSKALOOSA — Bring you family to Caldwell Park Saturday night for Movie on the Barn.The Friends of Mahaska County Conservation and the Mahaska County Conservation Board are hosting the event that begins at 9 p.m. at Caldwell Park.Bring a blanket or la

    August 1, 2014

  • Farmers Market photo Aug. 3-9 is National Farmers Market Week WASHINGTON, D.C. — Through the signing of an official proclamation, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 3 through 9, “National Farmers Market Week.” Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate our nation’s thousands of farmers markets

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cattlemen photo People flock to Sweet Corn Serenade food, fun OSKALOOSA — People flocked to the Oskaloosa city square Thursday to satisfy their craving for sweet corn at the annual Sweet Corn Serenade.Event organizers bought 213 dozen ears of corn to be soaked and roasted throughout the day. The Mahaska County

    August 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Chalk the Walk at Osky Elementary OSKALOOSA — Residents of the Oskaloosa area will get a chance to showcase their artistic talents at a sidewalk chalk fundraiser for Operation Backpack of Mahaska County. William Penn University’s student-run radio station, 88.7 KIGC “The Kitchen,” an

    July 31, 2014

  • Stuff the Bus photo United Way stuffs the bus for Operation Backpack OSKALOOSA — United Way of Mahaska County staff stuffed a bus with donated school supplies Tuesday morning to benefit needy students around the county.This is the third year for the Stuff the Bus program that the United Way has sponsored.“It’s a schoo

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • MHP Blue Zones 1 MHP becomes Blue Zones-designated worksite

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Balloon photo 2 Balloons over Oskaloosa Care Center honor Paula Whipple OSKALOOSA — Red, white, green and yellow balloons filled the sky over the Oskaloosa Care Center Wednesday afternoon in honor of Paula Whipple.Whipple was an Oskaloosa Care Center certified nursing assistant who recently passed away. She had worked at

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • It's Sweet Corn Serenade time Thursday OSKALOOSA — This Thursday, starting at noon, come out to the town square for a nice meal, fun activities, vendors and live music. It's time for the Sweet Corn Serenade. The meal includes a hamburger and an ear of corn for $5. Extra corn can be purch

    July 30, 2014

  • City Band to close out Sweet Corn Serenade OSKALOOSA — The Oskaloosa City Band will perform on Thursday at 8 p.m. as the closing act for this year’s Sweet Corn Serenade. The Oskaloosa High School Cheer Squad will help kick off the concert as the band plays Oskaloosa’s Fight Song. The youngest

    July 30, 2014

Oskaloosa Shopper
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Photo reprints