Employee Highlight – Fall 2017

Susan White is an environmental scientist, reclamation specialist, biologist and project manager for the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program (AMRP). She has been with the Division since 1990 and has worked in the coal and minerals programs and administration. She also worked two years with the Energy Advisor and Office of Energy Development.

As a project manager, Susan oversees a lengthy checklist of processes that must be done before any actual mine closure work is done. A medium sized project with 30 to 50 openings takes two to three years of surveys and paperwork before construction starts. Once construction begins, work can be completed in a couple of weeks. 

Susan begins a project with a defined area, usually a mining district, and completes an inventory of safety hazards and mine closure options. She then assesses and contacts the resources potentially affected by reclamation including historic, paleontological, bats, raptors, and threatened or endangered species.  Public meetings are held to educate and gather project input. A National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document is produced accounting for the potentially affected resources and what steps will be taken to protect them.  Once these steps are complete, the federal funding partner, usually the Office of Surface Mining or the Bureau of Land Management, issues a decision document that then allows moving to construction.

While these processes are time consuming, it ensures Susan and the AMR program protect the environment and resources, while at the same time protect public safety.

According to Susan, the best part about her job is working with co-workers and partners- to her they are like family. She also enjoys getting out in the field and away from her desk (unless there are biting no-see ums).

Susan has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology with a minor in botany and a Master of Science in Range and Wildlife Management from Brigham Young University.

She has over 40 years of experience in the natural resource field. Some of the highlights include a threaten and endangered plant survey in southeastern Utah in 1977; vegetation surveys along the Alaska oil pipeline for two summers; biotic surveys and revegetation work during the first oil shale boom and bust in the 1980s; and construction management for revegetation of oil and gas operations in western Wyoming, interstate pipelines, and interstate powerlines.

Susan has been riding her bike to work for about 25 years and finds it a great way to unwind. She also enjoys hiking and exploring trails along the Wasatch Front and is an avid gardener.