Government agencies often struggle to communicate effectively with the public. In seeking improved ways of communicating with people at a time when attention spans are at an all-time low, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recognized the power of video and the role it plays in today’s fast-paced, information-driven society.
Coal mining is currently at the forefront of many national environmental debates and is often usurped by “clean” energy in today’s storyline. While many of the issues surrounding coal are controversial, there are some very good stories yet to be told. Often overlooked is that lands mined for coal can be returned to other beneficial uses, often resulting in more productive land than there was to begin with.
Montana began regulating strip mining in 1971 when the Legislature adopted the Montana Open Cut and Strip Mine Reclamation Act. It said that all lands disturbed by the taking of natural resources shall be reclaimed and the Legislature, which shall provide procedures and standards for the reclamation. Today, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality works with coal mining companies in Montana to allow for human activity without compromising the environment.
Reclaimed lands are often used for cattle grazing, farming, and recreation and in many instances feature abundant wildlife habitat. Often the reclamation is so well done that the average person would have a difficult time identifying lands as former coal mines.
DEQ hired Back Country Media of Bozeman, Montana, and with the cooperation of several of these coal mines set out to create a video that would not only explain reclamation, but help broaden the public’s perspective on DEQ’s role in the process of regulating coal mining in Montana. The result is a stunning video proactively displayed on the home page of the DEQ website, capturing audiences on a topic that could otherwise easily be dismissed.
Results to Date:
The video has received positive feedback from the public, stakeholders, reclamationists, environmental professionals, and other government entities.
Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Environmental Quality