Section 9-16-7

Duties of operators.

(a) Every operator to whom a permit is issued pursuant to this article and who engages in surface mining on lands described in the permit shall:

(1) Submit to the department, no later than 90 days after expiration of the permit period, a map or aerial photograph showing the location of the surface mining operation conducted during the permit period by section, township, range, and county with other description to identify the land upon which the operator has conducted surface mining during the permit period. The map or aerial photograph shall include a legend showing the number of acres of affected land and the reclamation to be made in accordance with this section.

(2) Commence contemporaneous reclamation of mined areas as set out in the comprehensive reclamation plan approved by the department. Reclamation bonds shall be adjusted annually to reflect unreclaimed disturbed acreage as well as reclaimed acreage released by the department. Failure to carry out contemporaneous reclamation may result in the suspension of mining, until the department determines that reclamation has been completed in accordance with this subsection.

(3) Conduct surface mining operations in a manner as to leave a minimum 50-foot setback. No clearing or excavation shall be done in setback areas. The operator shall immediately repair any damage to setback areas caused by the mining operation. All setbacks shall have lateral support graded to a 3:1 or flatter slope that shall be stabilized, mulched, fertilized, and planted in permanent native grasses and legumes. Failure to comply with setback requirements shall constitute a violation, and may result in suspension of the surface mining permit and a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) per violation.

(4) Carry on grading of affected land to backfill highwalls to a 3:1 or flatter slope, to reduce spoil peaks and ridges to a rolling topography, and provide soil stabilization and drainage control.

(5) Divert water from the mining operation in a manner designed to reduce siltation, erosion, or other damage to streams and natural watercourses.

(6) Revegetate all disturbed areas by applying lime and fertilizer, as recommended by a comprehensive soil analysis, then mulching and seeding with permanent native grasses and legumes to achieve a minimum 75 percent vegetative cover.

(b) In addition to the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, the operator shall, as a minimum, plant tree-planting stock on or directly seed the affected land with seed or seedlings of native commercial species. Where the operator elects to plant tree-planting stock on all or a portion of the affected land, the planting shall be carried out based on a spacing of 10 feet, approximately 435 trees per acre, and planting methods shall be governed by good planting practices. Where the operator elects to directly seed all or a portion of the affected land, the direct seeding shall be conducted to result in establishment, one year after the sowing, of between 400 and 450 tree seedlings per acre. If direct seeding or planting does not result in establishment within one year of between 400 and 450 tree seedlings per acre, the operator shall conduct additional seeding or planting necessary to result in establishment of 400 to 450 tree seedlings per acre. All seeds to be sown by direct seeding shall be treated with bird and rodent repellent.

(c) An operator with the legal title or right may construct dams of earth or other materials in cuts of all operations where lakes may be formed and may cause lakes to be formed. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the formation of any lakes shall not interfere with underground or other mining operations or cause damage to adjoining property.

(d) On all affected land to be reforested, the operator shall construct fire lanes or access roads, which shall be not less than 12 feet in width and not more than one-fourth section apart at their nearest point. Where the fire lanes and access roads are adjacent to public roads or highways, they shall be constructed to be just inside the boundary of the reforested area.

(e) In substitution for the grading and revegetation requirements set forth in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the operator may elect to reclaim the land for range, agricultural, horticultural, homesite, recreational, industrial, or commercial use, but no election shall result in grading to a lesser extent than set forth in subsection (a) of this section. The revegetation or other requirements applicable to range, agricultural, horticultural, homesite, recreational, industrial, or commercial use shall be in accordance with rules or regulations prescribed by the department.

(f) The operator shall complete the reclamation of all affected land within two years from the date of expiration of the permit period.

(Acts 1969, No. 399, p. 773, §7; Act 99-579, p. 1307, §2.)