FA KY FY2020 AS - PRICE: Evaluating the Use of Reclaimed Forests by Threatened, Endangered and Species of Concern on Appalachian Coal Mines

Grants and Contracts Details

Description

The negative impacts of surface coal mining on native flora and fauna in the Appalachian region have been widely documented. This mining practice has been linked to a decline in the diversity and abundance of benthic macroinvertebrates, amphibians, fish, migratory birds and mammals. Although reclaimed mines have been shown to provide good habitat for wildlife generalist species, such as bobwhite quail, turkey, rabbits, deer and elk, little information exist on the utilization of these reclaimed areas for forest and wetland-dependent species of concern. One of the reasons for the lack of information can be attributed to the limited creation of forest and wetland habitat on surface mines after the implementation of SMCRA. With the implementation of the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative in the mid-2000s and adoption of the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA), we now have tens of thousands of acres of young forest that could provide suitable habitat for species of concern. In addition, wetlands have been constructed on many reclaimed surface mines. Understanding the extent of utilization of these reclaimed forests and wetlands by species of concern is needed. The University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest and the Monongahela National Forest, WV provide ideal locations for an examination of the use of reclaimed forests and wetlands by species of concern. Robinson Forest contains reclaimed forests with stands exhibiting differing times-since planted (ranging from 1 to 25 years). Similarly, the Monongahela NF has pre-SMCRA reclaimed forests (approx. 50 years old) and forests reclaimed using FRA between 1 and 12 years since planted. Both sites contain reference non-mined forest, reclaimed grasslands, and reference forests. Thus, we have the capability to examine wildlife diversity in both young (open canopy) and more mature (closed canopy) reclaimed forest. In addition, we can compare the reclaimed forests to conventional grassland reclamation and to nearby unmined forest. We can also examine wetland habitat within each of these forest and grassland states. We will focus on wildlife groups that are known to be affected by surface mining and are considered imperiled, threatened, or endangered and are of global concern including amphibians, migratory birds, and bats. However, our survey techniques are comprehensive and will provide a general assessment of wildlife diversity across our treatments. This project will provide critical information on whether species of concern are utilizing reclaimed mines and provide insight on what habitat types are more suitable to support their populations. A better understanding of habitat features that attract species of concern will guide future reclamation practices.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date5/10/215/9/23

Funding

  • Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement: $199,397.00

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