Evaluating the Influence of the Forestry Reclamation Approach on Hydrology and Water Quality in Appalachian Coal Minesp

Grants and Contracts Details


In the steep sloping hills of central Appalachia and the Cumberland Plateau, water resource issues abound. Whether the culprit is coal mining, timber harvesting, straight piping of sewage or any number of construction or agricultural activities, discussions on the impact of land-use on water quality and quantity in the region are often emotionally, and sometimes politically, fueled. Natural resource extraction (coal, gas, timber) has been the primary economic driver in the region for over a century. Although these activities provide jobs and revenue, degradation of water quality and compromised water supplies from resource extraction are regularly documented. Linked with the consequences of global climate change, the status of the region’s water resources for the foreseeable future are unknown. Management solutions developed to protect water resources from these issues are needed. The University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest provides an ideal setting to examine impacts of land-use on water resources. The forest contains a hydrologic network that has been continuously monitored since the early 1970s. Additionally, resource extraction in the form of timber harvesting and surface coal mining have occurred on the site resulting in a myriad of land disturbance types and time-since impacted. Thus, we have the capability to examine how recent mining and reclamation practices (20 years) may be affecting forest vegetation and its influence on watershed function (annual streamflow, storm flow response, evapotranspiration, water chemistry). We also have the ability to examine how resource extraction affects watershed functions and to determine what measures could be employed to minimize these impacts (Forestry Reclamation Approach). Lastly, we can utilize climate and forest range modeling techniques to examine how climate change may influence the recovery (restoration or natural regeneration) of forest stands from disturbance activities and the consequences emerging climates may have for forest composition and watershed function. A better understanding of how land-use and climate change, alone and in combination, influence water resources in the region will allow us to predict and prepare for associated economic, environmental, social, and/or infrastructure costs that may arise in response to change.
Effective start/end date10/1/166/30/19


  • Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement: $195,490.00


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