About 90 years ago a mine site located 20 minutes from Pittsburgh teemed with men digging for coal. Years later the operation shut down, leaving a scarred landscape. Now the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden and the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania are using a TogetherGreen grant to turn this old mine into a conservationist’s dream—a botanic garden complete with wooded ridges, burbling streams, and abundant birds, including woodpeckers and indigo buntings. Kids from Auberle, an organization that helps struggling children and families, have pitched in with some of the work, removing invasive species and preparing the area for an acid mine drainage treatment system. The youngsters, primarily middle and high schoolers, have also enjoyed learning about birds and native plants in an outdoors education program headed by the Audubon chapter. “They were enthusiastic as soon as we put the binoculars in their hands,” says Gabi Hughes, an environmental educator with Audubon. “It’s a lovely location.”
This story originally ran in the September-October 2012 issue as, "Gold Mine."