Signature Sponsor
Drone Videographer's Work to be Featured at Pennsylvania Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference



By Justin Strawser

June 5, 2022 - A local videographer and active member of the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance (SCRA) will have his work featured at 2022 Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference in State College in June.

Jeff Herb, who donated his professional services to produce an aerial video of the impaired Shamokin Creek, captured and compiled high-quality drone video of the creek as it makes its way to the Susquehanna River, exposing a startling new perspective of the sources of impairment that have stained the creek for centuries. Additionally, SCRA recently held a one-hour community presentation that will feature highlights of the water quality study to restore the Shamokin Creek Watershed.

The 30-minute narrated video explores the sources of the headwaters, acid mine drainage points and treatment systems being used in the watershed.


Jeff Herb, a member of the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance, operates a drone that he used to film to Shamokin Creek watershed for a video submitted to the 2022 Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference in State College in June. 


“If you watch this over the half-hour, you’ll know exactly where we’re at,” said Herb, of On The Fly Aerial Imagery, of Coal Township. “You’ll know how bad it is, what the situation is, and how to get involved. If you’re concerned about the cause, this will get you up to date.”

Submissions for the conference are not part of a competition, rather it’s to raise awareness.

Herb had been gathering footage of the creek for several months and collected more than 16 hours of video to reference for a separate project. SCRA was made aware last month of an opportunity to show the conditions of the watershed via a virtual tour at the 2022 PA Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Conference (AMR). Herb edited the footage, added some ground footage of water testing, and submitted the final product to the conference.

“I’m glad I’m able to contribute, sUAS (small unmanned aerial system), or drones, are exceptionally helpful tools for documenting the whole situation,” said Herb. “I hope when people view how extensive the contamination is, it will help bring more attention and support from the community to get involved with things happening to restore the creek’s health. It may be several generations from now that will really benefit from our efforts but that doesn’t change the fact that we are to be good stewards now. I believe there is hope, but it calls for the community to get involved.”

The 32.4-mile Shamokin Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in Northumberland County affected by acid mine runoff. Coal mining started in the 137-square-mile watershed more than 200 years ago.

Herb uploaded the video to YouTube where it has more than 700 views. He said the feedback has been positive.

“People are interested, they’re sharing it,” he said. “It’s educational.”

Bringing awareness to the issue is a great first step, he said, and may influence recent state and federal funding to be used in the county.

SCRA members expressed their support of Herb and his work.

“This video gets everyone on the same page with how severe the acid mine drainage problems are in the upper Shamokin Creek watershed, as well as some of the things being done right now to restore the water to a healthier condition,” said SCRA Board member John Bucanelli.

SCRA Board member Heather Makal said seeing the streams and waterways from an aerial point of view helps give a clearer picture of what is happening in the watershed.

“This is a great way to educate people quickly and help the SCRA bring awareness to the community,” said Makal.

The 24th annual PA AMR Conference is the longest-running annual environmental conference in Pennsylvania focused on abandoned mine reclamation and the associated issues. The PA AMR Conference provides a forum for the dissemination of information and encourages discussion between industry, watershed groups, and decision-makers that can help to further innovations in public policy, abandoned mine reclamation, and restoration of Pa.’s watersheds and communities.

With a theme of New Opportunities on the Horizon, the Conference is held June 22 and 23 at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center, 1450 S. Atherton St., State College.

The video can be watched at

SCRA Presentation

On May 18, SCRA presented a study to the public conducted by Clauser Environmental. The alliance, Northumberland County Conservation District and the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation collaborated with Clauser Environmental LLC to explore and assess sources of impairment and identify transformational restoration projects within the Quaker Run and Buck Run Watersheds that drain into Shamokin Creek. The watershed assessment report and restoration plan were completed under a Pa. Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener grant.

The scientific work completed as part of the assessment report serves as the foundation for the restoration plan strategy. Best management practices that are suggested for the watersheds include floodplain restoration, stream bank stabilization, riparian buffer enhancement, stabilized stream crossings, sewer system improvements and abandoned mine reclamation.{

“The SCRA has always been told that in order to acquire funding to install physical projects that can make a water quality difference, we would need an assessment and a reclamation plan in place. As this presentation proves, we now have a plan that allows us to move forward and search out funding that will make a physical difference,” said SCRA Vice President Stephen Motyka. “The news that the Federal Infrastructure Bill has allocated $244 million dollars in 2022 to Pennsylvania to clean up Abandoned Mines and Acid Mine Drainage has made the Shamokin Creek more hopeful than ever. Our group believes we have made all the correct moves, placing us at the top of the list for this funding.”

Presentation like this show that hard work and outreach can really pay off, said Motyka.

“I ended the presentation with a quote from American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,’” said Motyka.