Environment

The federal government is directing nearly $4 million to two Eastern Kentucky projects in an effort to create jobs and opportunities.

The state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet announced the grants earlier this week. The money from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot program will fund projects in Prestonsburg in Floyd County and Royalton in Magoffin County.

Prestonsburg’s grant partly funds a $1.95 million project to turn miles of abandoned railway into trails for walking, biking hiking and more. Kentucky has 17 similar Rail-Trails completed, and is working on 14 more according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The site says so far in Kentucky, more than $12.8 million has been funneled toward the projects.

Royalton’s $1.9 million grant would allow Royalton Trail Town Inc. to create a recreational area on a 15-acre tract in the area, bringing horse barns, campsites and cabins to rent.

The funds are part of a federal $30 million grant for pilot projects that could bring economic development in Appalachian counties. Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman Lanny Brannock said Kentucky’s grants would revive struggling coal towns such as Prestonsbug.

“We know that coal production is not what it once was in Eastern Kentucky,” Brannock said. “This is part of a way to revitalize that area.”

This money comes from last year’s AML Pilot Program funding, for which Kentucky got $30 million. The state opened the application period for the 2017 program today–for that, $25 million will be available.

A spokesman for Rep. Hal Rogers said the congressman is working to secure another $25 million in grants for Kentucky through funding the AML Pilot Program in fiscal year 2018.

Officials also announced this week that a separate $1 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will fund a water treatment plant for the Big Sandy Area Development District, which oversees Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin and Pike counties. The funds will help build a new wastewater treatment plant which is estimated to bring sewer service to 3,000 families and 300 businesses.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.