BRISTOL — Communities across Southwest Virginia are setting their sights on outdoor recreation, agriculture and broadband internet expansion as some of the ways former coal mining sites could be cleaned up and transformed for economic development opportunities.

As part of the federal government’s Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program, Virginia is slated to award $10 million in grants for projects that would reclaim old mining features and support new uses. And this round of funding looks like it will be competitive — the application deadline was Oct. 31, and the state received 18 proposals requesting more than $24 million in funding, according to submissions obtained and reviewed by the Bristol Herald Courier through an open records request.

Proposals detailed small- and large-scale projects across Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Tazewell and Wise counties and the city of Norton.

Projects will now be screened for eligibility to make sure they comply with certain federal guidelines, according to Tarah Kesterson, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The DMME administers the pilot program in Virginia. An advisory council will then recommend projects to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for final approval. A specific timeline has not been established for when projects will be selected and announced.(tncms-inline)489bb623-60f4-4507-8f15-cec450b6f2d6[0](/tncms-inline)

Clinch River Hemp Co. submitted the largest funding request of $4.11 million for a project aimed at remediating a group of deep mine and surface mine sites in Buchanan and Lee counties by cultivating hemp.

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