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     82-4-239. Reclamation. (1) The department may have reclamation work done by its employees, by employees of other governmental agencies, by soil conservation districts, or through contracts with qualified persons. The board may construct, operate, and maintain plants for the control and treatment of water pollution resulting from mine drainage.
     (2) Any funds or any public works programs available to the department must be used and expended to reclaim and rehabilitate lands that have been subjected to strip mining or underground mining and that have not been reclaimed and rehabilitated in accordance with the standards of this part. The department shall cooperate with federal, state, and private agencies to engage in cooperative projects under this section.
     (3) Agents, employees, or contractors of the department may enter upon any land for the purpose of conducting studies or exploratory work to determine whether the land has been strip- or underground-mined and not reclaimed and rehabilitated in accordance with the requirements of this part and to determine the feasibility of restoration, reclamation, abatement, control, or prevention of any adverse effects of past coal-mining practices. Upon request of the director of the department, the attorney general shall bring an injunctive action to restrain any interference with the exercise of the right to enter and inspect granted in this subsection. The action must be brought in the county in which the mine is located.
     (4) (a) The department shall take the actions described in subsection (4)(b) when it makes a finding of fact that:
     (i) land or water resources have been adversely affected by past coal-mining practices;
     (ii) the adverse effects are at a stage at which, in the public interest, action to restore, reclaim, abate, control, or prevent should be taken; and
     (iii) the owners of the land or water resources where entry must be made to restore, reclaim, abate, control, or prevent the adverse effects of past coal-mining practices are not known or readily available or the owners will not give permission for the department or its agents, employees, or contractors to enter upon the property to restore, reclaim, abate, control, or prevent the adverse effects of past coal-mining practices.
     (b) After giving notice by mail to the owner, if known, and any purchaser under contract for deed, if known, or, if neither is known, by posting notice on the premises and advertising in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the land lies, the agents, employees, or contractors of the department may enter on the property adversely affected by past coal-mining practices and on any other property necessary for access to the mineral property to do all things necessary or expedient to restore, reclaim, abate, control, or prevent the adverse effects of past coal-mining practices.
     (c) Action taken under subsection (4)(b) is not an act of condemnation of property or of trespass, but rather is an exercise of the power granted by Article IX, sections 1 and 2, of the Montana constitution.
     (5) (a) Within 6 months after the completion of projects to restore, reclaim, abate, control, or prevent adverse effects of past coal-mining practices on privately owned land, the department shall itemize the money expended and may file a statement of those expenses in the office of the clerk and recorder of the county in which the land lies, together with a notarized appraisal by an independent appraiser of the value of the land before the restoration, reclamation, abatement, control, or prevention of adverse effects of past coal-mining practices if the money expended resulted in a significant increase in property value. The statement constitutes a lien upon the land. The lien may not exceed the amount determined by the appraisal to be the increase in the market value of the land as a result of the restoration, reclamation, abatement, control, or prevention of the adverse effects of past coal-mining practices. A lien under this subsection (5)(a) may not be filed against the property of a person who owned the surface prior to May 2, 1977, and who did not consent to, participate in, or exercise control over the mining operation that necessitated the reclamation performed under this part.
     (b) The landowner may petition within 60 days of the filing of the lien to determine the increase in the market value of the land as a result of the restoration, reclamation, abatement, control, or prevention of the adverse effects of past coal-mining practices. The amount reported to be the increase in value of the premises constitutes the amount of the lien and must be recorded with the statement provided for in this section. Any party aggrieved by the decision may appeal as provided by law.
     (c) The lien provided in this section must be recorded at the office of the county clerk and recorder. The statement constitutes a lien upon the land as of the date of the expenditure of the money and has priority as a lien second only to the lien of real estate taxes imposed upon the land.
     (6) The department may acquire the necessary property by gift or purchase. A gift or purchase must be approved by the board of land commissioners. If the property cannot be acquired by gift or purchase at a reasonable cost, proceedings may be instituted in the manner provided in Title 70, chapter 30, against all nonaccepting landholders if:
     (a) the property is necessary for successful reclamation;
     (b) the acquired land after restoration, reclamation, abatement, control, or prevention of the adverse effects of past coal-mining practices will serve recreation and historic purposes or conservation and reclamation purposes or provide open space benefits; and
     (c) (i) permanent facilities, such as treatment plants or relocated stream channels, will be constructed on the land for the restoration, reclamation, abatement, control, or prevention of the adverse effects of past strip- or underground-coal-mining practices; or
     (ii) acquisition of coal refuse disposal sites and all coal refuse on the land will serve the purposes of this part because public ownership is desirable to meet emergency situations and prevent recurrences of the adverse effects of past coal-mining practices.

     History: En. Sec. 20, Ch. 325, L. 1973; amd. Sec. 27, Ch. 441, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 50-1053(part); amd. Sec. 14, Ch. 550, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 26, Ch. 526, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 375, Ch. 418, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 29, Ch. 361, L. 2003; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 78, L. 2009.

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