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Coal Resource Management on National Forest System Lands

Surface coal mining activity The Forest Service manages federal coal resources in partnership with Interior Department agencies, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), along with state agencies. The Forest Service has principal responsibility to manage use of surface resources, and ensure lands are reclaimed to support on-going land uses. Active coal mining occurs on certain NFS lands in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Kentucky.

The BLM manages leasing federal coal resources, and must have consent of the Forest Service before leasing NFS lands. The Forest Service provides the BLM with stipulations to protect surface resources and uses for NFS lands in federal coal leases. The BLM also manages exploration activity for unleased federal coal resources, and interacts with the Forest Service regarding conditions for use and protection of surface resources. The BLMs procedures for coal exploration and leasing activities are found in 43 CFR Part 3400.  More information can be found on the BLMs coal program website.

Livestock graze on reclaimed surface from a coal mine on Thunder Basin National Grasslands in WyomingOnce a coal lease is issued, mining and related operations are subject to specific approval by a state agency, under oversight from the OSMRE.  A state agency with delegated responsibility from the OSMRE  is responsible for issuing coal mining permits, inspecting operations, and ensuring reclamation is complete and effective.  The state agency and OSMRE must have Forest Service information on post-mining land use and conditions for protection of NFS lands and resources before authorizing coal mining.  The Forest Service bases post-mining land use information on the applicable land management plan.  The OSMREs procedures and standards for coal mine permitting are found in 30 CFR Part 700.  More information can be found on the OSMREs coal mining regulatory program website, and state-specific websites.

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