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Mike Sharp, George Stunkard and Mike Kastl
(From left) Mike Sharp, OCC's Information Technology director; George Stunkard, OCC chairman' and Mike Kastl, OCC Abandoned Mine Land director, at the NAAMLP conference in Billings, Mont.

Oklahoma Sweeps Awards at National AML Conference

OCC's Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation (AML) staff received both awards presented at the 28th Annual Conference of the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs (NAAMLP) held in Billings, Mont., Sept. 24- 27.

Dr. Mike Sharp, director of the Information Technology Division of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC), received the “Stan Barnard Award.” The award is presented in memory of Stan Barnard, past AML Association president and administrator for the AML Division in Wyoming. The award is given to an individual who exhibits "Stan-like" qualities of outstanding dedication, commitment, and hard work toward the enhancement of the National Association of AML Programs. Sharp serves on several NAAMLP committees and chairs the Abandoned Mine Land Information Systems (AMLIS) committee. He participated in the development and implementation of two AML courses and is an instructor of five Office of Surface Mining (OSM) courses. Sharp formed the AML Users Group to encourage OSM to provide computer hardware, software and training support to AML Programs for designing reclamation projects. Sharp has testified before Congress on behalf of "minimum program" AML states (like Oklahoma and seven other states whose coal production falls below the amount needed to generate $1.5 million in reclamation funds taxed at the rate of 15 cents per ton on underground-mined coal, 35 cents per ton on surface-mined coal and 10 cents per ton on lignite coal) to appropriate the annual $2 million allocation, as mandated in Public Law 95-87.

Mike Kastl, director of OCC's AML Division, received the other award, the Dave Bucknam Outstanding Instructor Award. This was the first year to present the award honoring Dave Bucknam, director of Colorado’s AML Reclamation Program, who succumbed to cancer in 2004.

"Dave had a passion for training and was chairman of the Association’s Training Committee," Kastl said. Bucknam is credited as having been the driving force in the initiation, development and instruction of the first OSM-AML course and helped implement several AML design courses. "Dave was the ultimate instructor, who had the knack of engaging his students in discussion and imparting to them his many AML experiences," Kastl said. Of the 189 instructors teaching a variety of OSM courses each year, Kastl was selected to receive the first Bucknam award. Kastl had worked with Bucknam and others to develop the first OSM-AML course offered to state and tribal AML staff. The purpose of the course was to provide identification, planning, design, implementation, maintenance and evaluation of actual reclamation project work. Kastl helped launch the course for the first time as an instructor with Bucknam and Alan Kraps (OSM staff member from Washington, D.C.) in Norton, Va., in May 1991. In the years since, Kastl has had the opportunity to teach, with Bucknam and other instructors, hundreds of students in several states.

Mike Thralls, Mike Kastl and George StunkardKastl and Sharp were recognized again at the October Conservation Commission meeting on the Monday following the NAAMLP conference. OCC Chairman George Stunkard and Executive Director Mike Thralls posed for a photograph with Kastl. Sharp was not present at the Commission meeting but was attending a conference of the National Society of Geographic Information Councils in Little Rock, Ark.

(From left) OCC Executive Director Mike Thralls, AML Director Mike Kastl and Chairman George Stunkard at the October meeting of the Conservation Commission.