ASRS's History

The American Society of Reclamation Sciences (ASRS) was formerly known as the American Society of Mining and Reclamation (ASMR). The name was changed to better reflect the broadening area of applications and interests of its membership. The initial impetus for the Society was the need to respond both to the then extensive impact of current and historic surface mining for coal, and especially to SMCRA, the Surface Mining and Control and Reclamation Act, passed in 1977. Over the years, as surface mining has diminished in its impacts, the expertise that ASRS members possess and promulgated found applications beyond coal mining. Consequently, the NEC recently recognized that the term “mining” in the name might unnecessarily define and diminish the public perception of the expertise and interests of our members. Our goal in moving forward is to attract new members and broaden our expertise and talents into the broad discipline of applied land and water reclamation science associated with all types of mining, oil and gas, conventional and alternative energy production, contaminated land remediation, agriculture, road construction, large scale commercial development, and other disturbances to land and water resources. The Society evolved from a small West Virginia advisory council, which began in 1973. It was originally supported by those concerned with the reclamation of lands disturbed for the extraction of coal in Appalachia. The Society adopted its present name in 2001 and has grown to a professional society of international prominence. It was known as The American Society for Surface Mining and Reclamation (ASSMR) from 1983 until the name was changed in 2001. The focus has also changed to include a broad spectrum of interests since the technology needed to protect, reestablish, or enhance the surface resources of the land is not determined by the purpose of the disturbance. Since its inception, William T. Plass served the Society as Executive Secretary; with Dr. Richard I. Barnhisel assuming this role in 1999 and Dr. Robert Darmody in 2013. A fundamental need of Reclamationists worldwide is the expansion of the opportunities for technology transfer, which is one of the primary goals of the Society. A National meeting is held annually where information is exchanged between academic professionals, those who are practicing reclamation in the field, students, and all other interested persons. The National meeting is the largest and most important annual event. Each year the location is rotated within eastern and western North America to provide opportunities for its members and guests to become familiar with diverse reclamation challenges and accomplishments. The proceedings for the meetings provide valuable references for those concerned with land reclamation.

Society programs and projects recognize the multidisciplinary nature of land reclamation and provide opportunities for those with specialized interests, from ecology to wetlands, to organize workshops, prepare special sessions for the National meetings, and publish handbooks and manuals. These efforts currently are organized under seven Technical Divisions. The basic objective in the efforts of all these divisions is to keep the membership informed of the cutting edge of basic and applied science of reclamation technology, both nationally and internationally. The Society's goal is also to provide a mechanism to encourage both written and verbal technology transfer. The formation of the International Affiliation of Land Reclamationists (IALR) has evolved as a means to expedite technology transfer between members of similar organizations and interests in Canada, China, Australia, Great Britain, and the United States. All members of ASMR are automatically affiliate members of the IALR as well.

Members of the ASRS receive additional mailings to inform them of research programs, new technology and products, and innovative reclamation projects, announcements of our annual meetings as well as employment opportunities. We have two publications, Reclamation Matters and a peer-reviewed Journal of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation (JASMR). The Society also uses a web site to help keep its members informed and other activities of other societies in foreign countries who have similar interests as ASMR.

For additional information, please read: A Short History of the ASMR written by Bill Plass, Jeff Skousen, and Dick Barnhisel. This is the history through 2004.