There’s a Dinosaur in Donegal

Within view of the entrance of LCT Energy’s Rustic Ridge Deep Mine in Donegal and Saltlick Townships, passersby now see a brightly colored stegosaurus veering out of the treeline. With messaging that reads “Our Water, Our Mountain” and “Stop the Coal Mine”, the dinosaur installation takes a stand against the deep mine and its potential impacts. Designed and constructed by community members who live within or near the footprint of the deep coal mine, the dinosaur provides a way to creatively engage with others and draw attention to the mine.

“I wanted to make a dinosaur to demand attention to the debate on this mine, while also keeping it light and civil,” said Lauren Noel, a small business owner from Jones Mills who took the lead in designing and constructing the dinosaur installation.

The symbol of the dinosaur is open to interpretation. Some messages for the dinosaur from the community members involved ranged from “don’t mess with my bones” to “keep it in the ground” to “coal extincts”. Yet, those behind the creation of the installation all agreed – just like the dinosaur, coal is part of the history of our region, but it is not our future.

“I wanted to get people thinking of coal’s relationship with prehistory, and maybe get them to consider a time when people weren’t here at all because the atmosphere couldn’t support us,” Noel stated. “We need to stop taking this mountain for granted and start taking care of the land more seriously. The mighty dollar isn’t going to mean a thing when we don’t have clean water and our property values disintegrate. How can you raise livestock on city water?”

LCT energy plans to mine under nearly 3,000 acres in Donegal and Saltlick townships within the first phase of their Rustic Ridge deep mine. The mine has the potential to damage private drinking wells and create additional polluting discharges into the Indian Creek and greater Youghiogheny River watersheds. The current permit for the mine allows LCT Energy to discharge around 2,000 gallons per minute of “treated mine waste water” into Champion Creek, which typically carries only 300-800 gallons per minute. The mining operations are also within close proximity of the abandoned, highly polluted Melcroft mine, and any breakthroughs from this mine would create additional stresses to the watershed.

As a result of these concerns, among others, Mountain Watershed Association has challenged the Department of Environmental Protection’s approval of LCT’s permit for the mine. The hearing on the case has been scheduled before Judge Bernard A. Labuskes, Jr. beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 29, 2018 at the Pittsburgh office of the Environmental Hearing Board. The hearing is open to the public, so concerned residents and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend. If you are interested in attending or staying involved with the planning process, contact Ashley at or 724-455-4200×6#.