Field Investigation of Best Practices for Steep-Slope Mine Reclamation Employing the Forestry Reclamation Approach

  • Sweigard, Richard (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Years of experience have demonstrated that excessive compaction ofreclaimed surface-mined land is a major deterrent to successful reforestation. The five-step Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) emphasizes the need for creating a suitable rooting medium that is at least four feet deep and free of compaction. However, much of the rcsearch that led to the development of FRA and most of the applications have been on flat to gently rolling reclaimed surfaces. Concern has been expressed that the application ofFRA on stecp-slope mines with highwall elimination may be impractical or may lead to slope failures, in some cases. The proposed investigation addresses those concerns by way of a two-part field investigation. The first part is a regional invcntory of the current practices that are in use throughout Appalachia at steep-slope operations where reforestation is the intended postmining land use. The second part is a detailed field invcstigation that implements the most common practices at a specially-constructed test site. The latter part will evaluate the selected practices on the basis of operational efficiency, economics, slope stability, and reforestation potential of the reclaimed surface. The proposed work addresses at least two of the identified "Topics of Interest", those being "Steep-Slope Mining and Reclamation: Evaluate stability of steep slopes" and "Reforestation: Improving survival and quality, and encouraging reforestation". It also addresses an overall goal of improving "the efficiency with which the coal industry conducts surface coal mining and reclamation activities." The output of the investigation will be a document describing the best practices for reclamation of steep-slope operations where forestry is the intended postmining land use, which is sensitive to the differences between various subregions within Appalachia. This document will be condensed into a draft of a Forest Reclamation Advisory for steep-slope mining. It is envisioned that the impact of the study will be wider acceptance and application ofFRA throughout the region and, ultimately, more reforested mine sites.
Effective start/end date6/1/088/15/10


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