Reforesting unused surface mined lands by replanting with native trees
Patrick N. Angel
James A. Burger
Carl E. Zipper
Rocky Mountain Research Station
In: Haase, D. L.; Pinto, J. R.; Riley, L. E., tech. coords. National Proceedings: Forest and Conservation Nursery Associations - 2011. Proc. RMRS-P-68. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 10-15.
More than 600,000 ha (1.5 million ac) of mostly forested land in the Appalachian region were surface mined for coal under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Today, these lands are largely unmanaged and covered with persistent herbaceous species, such as fescue (Festuca spp.) and sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata [Dum. Cours.] G. Don,) and a mix of invasive and native woody species with little commercial or ecological value. Some landowners and surrounding residents would like to restore native forests on some of these lands for the valuable products and services they provided prior to mining. Research and experience shows that native tree species can be reestablished on these lands through replanting with seedlings, but interventions are needed if those planted trees are to survive and thrive. For these lands to become productive forests, it is necessary to loosen compacted mine soils, correct chemical or nutrient deficiencies, and control the current vegetation as cultural practices to aid survival and growth of planted seedlings. Reforestation guidelines to restore native forests on mined lands that are unoccupied, unmanaged, and unproductive were developed. Practices include land clearing, mine soil tillage, fertilization, tree planting, weed control, and monitoring. Under leadership provided by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, a group formed by the Office of Surface Mining and seven state regulatory authorities, these procedures have been adopted and applied by watershed improvement groups, forestry and fish/wildlife agencies, coal companies, environmental groups, and an electrical generating company pursuing carbon credits.
Angel, Patrick N.; Burger, James A.; Zipper, Carl E.; Eggerud, Scott. 2012. Reforesting unused surface mined lands by replanting with native trees. In: Haase, D. L.; Pinto, J. R.; Riley, L. E., tech. coords. National Proceedings: Forest and Conservation Nursery Associations - 2011. Proc. RMRS-P-68. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 10-15.