Coal mine in “Harmony” with nature

North Dakota State Roundup

Published October 1, 1997  | October 1997 issue

Part of the Freedom coal mine, about five miles north of Hazen, N.D., will likely become a popular fishing and hunting spot for Mercer County residents by the year 2000, according to local officials.

An area already mined for its coal, called a "final pit," and "orphan spoil piles"—an abandoned mined area created before reclamation legislation—will be turned into a local recreation area. Joe Friedlander, environmental manager of Coteau Properties, which manages the mine, says this particular parcel provided a unique opportunity for the mine to give something back to area residents.

Most reclaimed mine land is filled in and returned to prairie grasses or agricultural production, but the parcel in question is adjacent to a wildlife habitat: Antelope Creek flows nearby and part of the pit is already filled with water. With nature in place, the details to create a small recreation area were hammered out by Coteau's and the Public Service Commission's engineering and environmental staffs, North Dakota Game and Fish biologists and a member of the Mercer County Water Board.

Once the Public Service Commission gives its approval and the Mercer County Commission rezones the area from agriculture to recreation, plans will proceed for the Antelope Creek Recreation Area and 58-acre Harmony Lake.

Kathy Cobb