Water and land resources restoration will help support healthy fisheries

Alexandria, VA – September 17, 2019 –The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) today announced its support for bipartisan legislation to help restore land and water on and near abandoned mines that would otherwise threaten fisheries and nearby communities.

The Abandoned Mine Land Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4248) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) to reauthorize the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) trust fund, which expires in two years. This trust fund was originally established in 1977 through the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which authorizes coal companies to contribute to this trust fund which benefits the restoration of mine lands no longer in use. These abandoned mines are potential sources of hazardous materials that can leak into the lakes, rivers and streams, harming the habitat of recreationally important fish.

“Conserving, maintaining and restoring land and water resources are critical to healthy fish and wildlife populations,” said ASA Inland Fisheries Policy Manager Chad Tokowicz. “To make sure abandoned mines do not continue to cause hazards for fisheries, it’s important that we restore mine sites after their usefulness has ended. The bipartisan legislation that Reps. Cartwright and Thompson have introduced will make sure federal funding is available to support healthy fisheries where past mining activity has left its mark.”

The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program has invested more than $5.7 billion into mitigating the hazards posed by abandoned mines. Approximately $616 million has been spent to clean up water hazards in communities across the U.S.A. For example, federal investments like these have helped to conserve and restore fish habitats in the Quakake Trail and Weatherly Borough Trail restoration project in Pennsylvania. The federal funds invested in this project will help to restore miles of wild trout fisheries in Quakake and Black Creeks, providing more opportunities for anglers in the region.

ASA sent a letter of support to Reps. Cartwright and Thompson thanking them for their bipartisan efforts.

“ASA understands the critical importance the mining industry plays in economic and job growth across the country,” said Tokowicz. “As the advocate for the recreational fishing industry, it is our responsibility to ensure that hazardous materials from abandoned mines do not impact our nation’s fisheries.”

Click here to read ASA’s 2018 position statement on mining.

“Responsible development of our natural resources and restoring aquatic habitats to the benefit of the environment, economy and local communities are top priorities at ASA,” continued Tokowicz. “It’s important that Congress move this bipartisan legislation forward so future generations can enjoy the great outdoors without dealing with hazards of past development.”