There is hereby created in the state treasury the unreclaimed lands fund, to be administered by the chief of the division of mineral resources management and used for the purpose of reclaiming land, public or private, affected by mining, or controlling mine drainage, for which no cash is held in the reclamation forfeiture fund created in section 1513.18 of the Revised Code or the surface mining fund created in section 1514.06 of the Revised Code and also for the purpose of paying the expenses and compensation of the council on unreclaimed strip mined lands as required by section 1513.29 of the Revised Code.
In order to direct expenditures from the unreclaimed lands fund toward reclamation projects that fulfill priority needs and provide the greatest public benefits, the chief periodically shall submit to the council project proposals to be financed from the unreclaimed lands fund, together with benefit and cost data and other pertinent information. For the purpose of selecting project areas and determining the boundaries of project areas, the council shall consider the feasibility, cost, and public benefits of reclaiming the areas, their potential for being mined, the availability of federal or other financial assistance for reclamation, and the geographic distribution of project areas to ensure fair distribution among affected areas.
The council shall give priority to areas where there is little or no likelihood of mining within the foreseeable future, reclamation is feasible at reasonable cost with available funds, and either of the following applies:
(A) The pollution of the waters of the state and damage to adjacent property are most severe and widespread.
(B) Reclamation will make possible public uses for soil, water, forest, or wildlife conservation or public recreation purposes, will facilitate orderly commercial or industrial site development, or will facilitate the use or improve the enjoyment of nearby public conservation or recreation lands.
Expenditures from the unreclaimed lands fund for reclamation projects may be made only for projects that are within the boundaries of project areas approved by the council, and expenditures for a particular project may not exceed any applicable limits set by the council. Expenditures from the unreclaimed lands fund shall be made by the chief, with the approval of the director of natural resources.
The chief may expend an amount not to exceed twenty per cent of the moneys credited annually by the treasurer of state to the unreclaimed lands fund for the purpose of administering the fund.
The chief may engage in cooperative projects under this section with any agency of the United States, appropriate state agencies, or state universities or colleges as defined in section 3345.27 of the Revised Code and may transfer money from the fund, with the approval of the council, to other appropriate state agencies or to state universities or colleges in order to carry out the reclamation activities authorized by this section.
If the director of natural resources determines it to be necessary, the director may request the controlling board to transfer an amount of money from the fund to the coal mining administration and reclamation reserve fund created in section 1513.181 of the Revised Code.
Effective Date: 06-14-2000; 04-06-2007