Gov. Bevin, Congressman Rogers Celebrate More than $5 Million in Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Grants for Knott, Perry and Breathitt Counties

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 7, 2019) – Gov. Matt Bevin today joined Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet (EEC) Secretary Charles Snavely and other state and local officials in Eastern Kentucky to celebrate $5.09 million in funding for three economic development projects in Knott, Perry, and Breathitt counties.

The projects were selected for grants through the EEC’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, as part of the 2018 and 2019 Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot program to help revitalize the coalfields in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

The USA Drone Port in Perry and Knott counties was selected to receive a $1.5 million 2018 AML Pilot grant to construct a cutting-edge, indoor drone flight-testing facility, along with peripheral infrastructure.

The 20,000-square-foot facility will enable all-weather drone research and development and make available drone testing 24 hours a day to private industry, government, and educational institutions. The grant has been submitted to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) for approval.

The USA Drone Port also has been selected to receive a $743,000 2019 AML Pilot grant to extend its sewer collection system while adding water service to the site.

Two other projects were selected to receive funds from the 2019 AML Pilot program.

Mine Made Adventures in Knott County was selected to receive $1.5 million to expand and develop the park. The project will include campground sites, cabins, and a multi-use building. The newly developed park will serve as a trailhead for hundreds of miles of interconnected, multi-purpose trails.

The South Fork Elk View Campground in Breathitt County was selected to receive $1.345 million to continue development of the campground. The area will include cabins, primitive tent sites, RV hook-ups, on-site utilities, landscaping, a camp store, bath house, vehicle wash station, and a playground.

“I am pleased to join Congressman Rogers today in announcing more than $5 million for three important economic development projects in Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Bevin. “These AML Pilot Program investments will provide significant enhancements to Knott/Perry County’s cutting-edge USA Drone Port, Knott County’s exciting Mine Made Adventure Park, and Breathitt County’s scenic South Fork Elk View Campground. We are grateful to Congressman Rogers, who is a strong partner in bringing vital jobs, economic opportunity and tourism development to our Appalachian region.”

“The AML Pilot Program allows us to focus funding where it’s needed the most in each county, to address pressing needs for infrastructure improvements, tourism enhancements, workforce training, and the like. We are revitalizing Southern and Eastern Kentucky from every corner to create more jobs and a brighter future in our region,” said Congressman Rogers, who championed the AML Pilot Program and secured $105 million in federal funding for Kentucky since 2016, alongside U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely said the projects will bring business and tourism dollars to the region. “We are glad we can assist these terrific projects,” Sec. Snavely said.

The AML Pilot Program, funded through OSMRE, is a program administered by the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands with assistance from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Department for Local Government, and the SOAR Initiative in Eastern Kentucky.

The projects were first unveiled Friday at the SOAR Summit in Pikeville.