Employee Highlight – Winter 2018

Priscilla Burton is an environmental scientist in the Coal Program and has worked for the Division for 21 years. She is based out of the Price Field Office.

Priscilla is a soil scientist working with an interdisciplinary team of environmental scientists. Her main responsibility is to ensure that there is suitable quality and quantity of topsoil salvaged, stockpiled, and protected for use in final reclamation of coal operations.

She inspects sites under construction to confirm salvage and replacement plans are followed and also completes routine mine inspections to ensure compliance with all Utah coal mining rules. 

Priscilla was the project manager for the successful White Oak mine reclamation project where she was able to leverage the available bond forfeiture funds with contributions from Carbon County and Canyon Fuel. She applied for and received grants from the Division of Water Quality for the transport and application of biosolids to reclaimed slopes; the Utah Watershed Initiative for reconstruction of Eccles Creek and erosion control; and Department of Agriculture for two Invasive Species Mitigation grants for the control of weeds from Whiskey to Clear Creek. 

She helps ensure responsible resource development and preservation of the environment by making sure topsoil needed for final reclamation is protected. Topsoil contains the required organic matter, nutrients and microbes that vegetation needs for growth. Successful vegetation growth is one key measurement of effective reclamation.

Priscilla feels a sense of accomplishment knowing that when a Utah coal mining permit is issued, the mining operation has a plan for successful reclamation. She has been involved with many reclamation projects including Des Bee Dove, Starpoint, Willow Creek, and perhaps the most visible Castle Gate refuse pile on Highway 6 north of Helper.

In addition to her responsibilities with the coal program, Priscilla has represented the Division as a member of the Skyline Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) since 2013. The Skyline CWMA is a collaborative effort of agencies and private landowners who determine the most effective ways to eliminate noxious and invading weeds. She produces the CWMA annual weed control calendar and has developed graphic design and desktop publishing skills.

Priscilla has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Soil Science from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science Degree in Plant Biology from Utah State University. She is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (Soil Science Society of America) and has a long list of Office of Surface Mining technology development and transfer courses.