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6 W.Va. projects chosen to share $30M abandoned mine fund

Apple tree planting, an expanded technology park and the commercial production of fish and vegetables are among the six projects the government of West Virginia has announced to share $30 million in funds meant for refurbishing abandoned mine areas.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced the allocation of the state's share of $90 million approved by Congress as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2015, according to a release. The money will be disbursed by the WVDEP's Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation.

The projects include $5.3 million for the planting of 100,000 apple trees on 500 acres in Nicholas and Clay counties, dubbed Patriot Guardens, which was initiated by the West Virginia National Guard, ERP Compliant Fuels, West Virginia State University Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and Pardee Resources, the release said.

Another $12 million will be used to develop an industrial park in Beckley that will include a West Virginia National Guard project to repair Humvees for the U.S. Department of Defense, while nearly $4 million will go to expand an existing technology park.

A further $3.6 million will go toward an aquaponics facility in Mingo County to produce commercial quantities of fish and vegetables with renewable energy sources.

The other two projects involve extending waterlines.

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a project using some of Pennsylvania's $30 million allocation of the Consolidated Appropriations Act money in August, while Kentucky's Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said the state was looking at applications in May for that state's share.