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North Dakota receives federal award for Morton County coal mine cleanup

North Dakota receives federal award for Morton County coal mine cleanup

Carrick Mine 2

An aerial view shows work in 2018 to clean up the abandoned Carrick Mine in Morton County.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission’s Abandoned Mine Lands Program has received a federal award for its work cleaning up an abandoned coal mine in Morton County.

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement issued the 2020 Western States and Tribes Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Award to the PSC for the project, which involved cleaning up the Carrick Mine northwest of New Salem.

Little is known about the history of the mine, but it appears to have started operations before 1938 and ceased by 1957, according to the PSC.

When it was abandoned, 1,300 feet of 40-foot highwalls remained, posing a danger to people and wildlife, Commissioner Randy Christmann said.

“By the time we were done, it was a gentle slope,” he said.

The PSC planned the project and oversaw work done by a contractor in 2018. The site now features two ponds with a channel in between, as well as trees and shrubs planted by the Morton County Soil Conservation District.

Stump removal

An excavator removes a 55-million-year-old Metasequoia stump from the abandoned Carrick Mine in Morton County.

The project required the removal of a large Metasequoia stump. A PSC geologist identified the tree, which is also known as a dawn redwood, and estimated it to be between 55 and 60 million years old. The stump was preserved using an excavator and tow straps, according to the PSC.

The reclamation project cost $174,000. The PSC is involved in several reclamation projects at abandoned mines each year, with work funded by a federal fee collected from current coal mining activities.

Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or


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