After 16 years of delays because of issues of abandoned mine lands, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden in North Fayette will finally open its first phase Aug. 1.
But some of the features that visitors to the garden won’t necessarily see have environmental officials excited.
“This site is a microcosm of our entire mission,” says Christopher Holmes, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Botanic Garden projects involved cleaning up abandoned mine lands, removing safety hazards and resolving drinking water issues. An acid-mine drainage-treatment bed that will continue to function adjacent to a pond won the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for filtering out aluminum hydroxide.
David Hamilton, regulatory program specialist with the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement office in Pittsburgh, calls the various Botanic Garden projects “a trifecta,” because they have resolved or will resolve issues of acid-mine drainage, subsidence and existing coal on the site, while eventually allowing for reforestation. The 460 acres planned for the first and future phases of the Botanic Garden were used over the centuries as farmland, strip mines and deep mines.
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