In 2001 the Department of Interior’s (DOI), Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), developed the first OSMRE/VISTA program-- the Appalachian Coal County Team (ACCT)--to assist communities impoverished by environmental degradation in seven states across Appalachia’s Coal Country.  As part of the program, the team trains, supports, and coordinates a dynamic group of OSMRE/VISTAs and their supervisors to promote social and environmental improvement at the grassroots level. 

Due to the success of the ACCT, the OSMRE/VISTA program expanded in 2006. A second OSMRE/VISTA Team—the Western Hard rock Watershed Team (WHWT)—was formed to work with community and watershed improvement groups to confront the challenges that remain from historic mining in Colorado and New Mexico. Like the ACCT, WHWT provides community and watershed improvement groups with college-educated, full-time, year-long OSMRE/VISTA Volunteers to help organizations address environmental degradation and community impoverishment.

Modeled on the award winning accomplishments of the OSMRE/VISTA Teams, the DOI/VISTA Team was created in 2013 when DOI asked the OSMRE to initiate a VISTA team serving multiple Bureaus within the Department of Interior.

The DOI/VISTA Team is the direct result of that effort, with its first DOI/VISTAs placed in February of 2014. Today, the combined OSMRE and DOI VISTA Teams are supported by Conservation Legacy, now the largerest national VISTA sponsoring organization with an environmental focus.

To learn more about our sister team, please visit the OSMRE/VISTA Website.