Bear Run

Bear Run (Johnstown Coal and Coke Property) Project

The Johnstown Coal and Coke Property, now owned by a conservation-minded Pittsburgh area businessman, is the first major pollution impact to the South Branch of Bear Run in Banks Township in the NE corner of Indiana County.  Bear Run and all its pollutants joins the West Branch of the Susquehanna and eventually empties into the Chesapeake Bay!

  • Bear Run is a major tributary to the headwaters of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River entering approximately 2 miles upstream of Chest Creek’s entry. Bear Run upstream of the South Branch of Bear Run is of great quality with a near Class A population of native brook trout. The South Branch, however, is void of fish life throughout most of its length due to severe AMD impacts that destroy the mainstem of Bear Run down to its confluence with the West Branch. Restoration work under a partnership between the Indiana County Conservation District, the SRBC, the Evergreen Conservancy, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Ken Sink Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Indiana County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corp and the Western PA Conservancy is progressing in the South Branch to bring back the entire watershed to the high quality cold water stream it should be from headwaters to mouth.
  • These two AMD discharges contribute approximately 63% of the total iron loading entering the Bear Run Watershed.
  • In 2005, the Evergreen Conservancy (EC) along with their project partner, the Indiana County Conservation District (ICCD), obtained an $11,000 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener Grant to begin planning the restoration of the Johnstown Coal and Coke Property.
  • In 2006, the Evergreen Conservancy received a $100,000 County Environmental Initiative Grant to construct a passive AMD treatment system for the South Branch Discharge #07, the more impacting of the two discharges originating from the Johnstown Coal and Coke Property. We also obtained an additional $30,000 from the Office of Surface Mining for the treatment of the Phase I Discharge (32% of iron loading)
  • In 2007 EC obtained another $100,000 from OSM for construction to supplement the $380,709 obtained by the ICCD and SRBC through the PA DEP Growing Greener Program.
  • In 2008 ICCD obtained $173,000 for the construction of the Phase III Treatment System (20% of the acidity and 10% of the aluminum) from the PA DEP Growing Greener Program. Currently nearing end of design.
  • Also in 2008 ICCD and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission obtained an additional $1 million for the construction of Phase IV-VIII finalizing the clean-up of Bear Run.
  • In 2008 Design of the treatment system was completed and the project was put out for bid.  A contractor was selected and construction commenced after all permits were approved.
  • By the end of 2008 Bear Run Phase III started discharging treated water. Field analysis showed an effluent pH of 8.06! Now this should subside slightly as limestone particulates are probably getting flushed out creating this extremely high pH.
refuse removal

Construction equipment removing mine refuse.



  • DEP District Mining Operations and the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation and the Federal Office of Surface Mining agreed to allow progression of an Government Financed Construction Contract for the removal of around 15,000 tons of mine refuse from the Bear Run Phase II site (Johnstown Coal and Coke Property).
  • January of 2009 Phase II began and mine refuse was removed and that allowed for the construction of the rest of the project.
  • Following refuse removal, the SRBC and ICCD coordina
    ted the restoration of this site which includes treatment of a large flow, alkaline, high iron discharge; the surface reclamation of a ~20 acre AML; and ~1000 ft of stream channel restoration.
  • The site contains two major abandoned mine drainage (AMD) discharges, approximately 25 acres of mine impacted land and approximately 2000 ft of impacted stream channels.

Bear Run ponds

  • As of November, 2010 – The site looks great; a recent study has shown a great amount of macroinvertebrate (insect) and life already coming back to the stream. Stocking the stream with is under consideration, possibly waiting until spring to further monitor how well the systems work. Phases 1-3 are completed.
  • Evergreen received the new contract from DEP and the remaining monies from the original grants will be spent for a lime treatment system. Phase V lime silo is complete and we are awaiting final payment from DEP before lime fillup and operation begins.  About 2/3 of the Phase V Project was funded by the Indiana County Conservation District via the balance they had remaining from the Phase III Project. The remaining 1/3 was funded by EC via the balanceremaining from the Phase I Project. That will conclude Evergreen’s part in this project, other than support in kind as needed.  The other phases are continuing. The entire project should be completed by the end of 2011.