Post-Mining Reforestation Demonstration Project V

  • Graves, Donald (PI)
  • Warner, Richard (CoI)
  • Sweigard, Richard (Former CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


It is proposed that three geographic areas be established to demonstrate low compaction surface mine reclamation techniques for high value tree production. One of the areas will be far eastern Kentucky, one in the vicinity of Hazard (near UK's research forest) and one in western Kentucky. Each area will contain approximately 1000 acres for a total of 3000 acres of new demonstration outdoor/classroom forests. The intent will be to establish half of each demonstration area on fresh spoil that is loosely dumped using specific guidelines developed from over 30 years of research for the establishment of high value native tree species. The other half of the acreage will be on previously reclaimed land that is already compacted by the usual grading procedures. The compacted spoil will be mechanically ripped prior to planting. Favorable results have been achieved in Kentucky and surrounding states using various ripping methods. Ripping loosens the soil so that the tree roots can penetrate and produce a healthy tree. The reclamation techniques involved in this demonstration preclude the initial development of herbaceous ground covers and there is a potential concern that reclamation without grass or protective cover may generate high off-site sediment loads thereby degrading streams. Water quality concerns are specifically addressed through a sediment control plan integrated with stream construction. While our previous research has shown that low compaction techniques did not generate significant off site sediments, a comprehensive water quality monitoring program will be established on the proposed demonstrations to verify and contrast runoff volume, peak flow, sediment concentration and sediment load among demonstration areas. As the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide continues to rise, most scientists believe that there will be a concommittment rise in temperature and potentially catastrophic effects due to global warming. Research around the globe is addressing mechanisms by which we can reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. One mechanism that can offset carbon dioxide emissions is to sequester additional carbon in our terrestrial systems. Reclaimed mine lands provide an excellent opportunity to sequester carbon in both soils and vegetation because reclaimed areas are essentially devoid of carbon after reclamation. Through the planting of forests we expect to dramatically affect carbon processes on those sites leading to carbon accumulation in soils and in forest biomass. We will thoroughly investigate these processes on the newly established demonstration areas. Costs of establishing trees can vary widely depending on a variety of local conditions. The Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet conservatively estimates reforestation and monitoring costs on compacted surface mines at $2,000/acre. Using this estimate, the total cost of the 3,000 acre reforestation demonstration is $6,000,000. The project would require funding for three years at a level of $2,000,000 per year for three years. The funding will be shared by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Energy for completion of the project. The actual completion of the demonstration areas will require eight (8) years. Each year appropriations will be needed for a period of three years each and would accomplish the planting of 500 acres of the stated objective of 3,000 acres.
Effective start/end date7/1/053/31/08


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