Future Lignite Mining In The South And Impacts On Fish And Wildlife Under SMCRA

Large deposits of recoverable lignite (> 16 billion tons) occur in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Commercial surface mining of these reserves has occurred only in eastern Texas, but additional mining has been proposed for Texas and the other states during the 1980's. Almost all of the new mining would occur in the Southeastern Mixed Forest· (Pineywoods) ecoregion, and the Prairie Parkland ecoregion of eastern Texas. Potential impacts on fish and wildlife will be lessened because of the enactment of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (P.L. 95·87) and the permanent program regulations. However, major impacts on fish. and wildlife may still occur as a result of habitat destruction and inadequate reclamation strategies. The prevention of significant impacts will depend mostly upon the diligent implementation and enforcement of the requirements of the Act, including evaluation of fish and wildlife impacts by trained and competent biologists. These issues and research and assessment needs are discussed.

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