The National Conference not only demonstrates the best of AML reclamation efforts across the nation but also highlights the greatest asset these programs have to offer, dedicated individuals. Ultimately, the experienced and energetic people are the beating heart of passionate work in each program. Only a few moments of interaction with them reveals the great commonalities of like-minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds, all focused on the similar goals of reclamation and environmental protection.
More than 300 folks gathered at the conference, creating an assembly of collective knowledge and great ideals. Technical sessions offered the opportunity to delve into details of tested techniques and discuss new efforts on the front line. Tours provided opportunities for KY AML to showcase a fraction of the natural beauty, interesting sites, and technically advanced operations across the Commonwealth. Discussions about projects, initiatives, and processes could be found in every corner. Networking opportunities provided a spectrum mix, from catching up with old friends to meeting new people with very different perspectives. Monday’s awards banquet and the Tuesday BBQ were opportunities for some welcome fellowship among friends and colleagues.
Having the opportunity to meet and interact with attendees, participating in national award presentations, and visiting with our vendors/presenters provided a great reward for those of us tasked with the effort. It was a real pleasure. Hopefully, in the future, each of you has the opportunity to visit Kentucky again. And, if you didn’t make it to this year’s conference, please take a look at Virginia’s event for next year. It’s going to be exceptional.
The Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands planned tours to highlight the beauty of Kentucky and everything our state has to offer. For early risers the first tour was out of the gate at 7:00am and headed to Louisville. It started with a tour of Churchill Downs, home of the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby. A visit to Megacaverns was next on the list. An old limestone quarry under the city of Louisville that’s been converted into an underground adventure park with a ropes course, BMX biking and zip lining. The Louisville Slugger Museum was everyone’s favorite stop where they did some early Christmas shopping for their own personalized Sluggers.
The most heavily attended tour was the visit to Natural Bridge, facilitated by a ride on the Natural Bridge Sky Lift which is in its 50th year of operation. This tour offered tremendous views of the scenic areas and an opportunity to experience the geologic formations that have attracted visitors to the area for over a century. The technical highlight of the tour was a visit to the Estill County Refuse Enhancement Project, along the Kentucky River, near Irvine, KY. Equally interesting was the Limestone Legacy tour which visited Keeneland, horse farms and other businesses around Lexington. This tour focused on the geology of the area, the karst topography and its role in shaping the Bluegrass Region. There was discussion of the role limestone plays in both the history of the region and the current industries.
The Restoration Rides tour visited the Cane Run Watershed, running through Lexington’s beautiful Horse Park and the Royal Springs Aquifer. This watershed supplies drinking water for Georgetown, Kentucky and includes the Kentucky Horse Park. The tour also visited the largest manufacturing plant in North America, the Georgetown, Toyota plant. We had a trip planned to UK’s Underground Blast Lab, but was cancelled due to a roof fall. Instead, the tour visited Ward Hall, an antebellum summer home for Junius Ward, and then the Georgetown Municipal Water & Sewer Service. The uniqueness of Georgetown’s water supply lies in the Royal Spring Aquifer. This aquifer is part of a karst system which begins near Rupp Arena (Hyatt Regency) downtown Lexington, Kentucky.
Down Town Branch was for anyone who didn’t want to spend a day on a bus. There was some history at the Mary Todd Lincoln house and then over to the Town Branch Distillery, named for Town Branch stream that runs under Lexington (that was the technical part of this tour). The day finished off with good food and music down at Manchester Music Hall. Thanks for visiting and we hope you had a great time.