Experience has shown that, since the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, over-compaction of spoil during the reclamation process has severely limited tree growth on reclaimed land. Researchers at the University of Kentucky have conducted a ten-year investigation at a surface mine in eastern Kentucky that monitored the changes in selected spoil physical characteristics for various reclamation and compaction alleviation methods. More specifically, research plots were developed for reforestation that employed three different levels of compaction and two different methods of ripping for overly compacted spoil. Each year measurements were made in the field of dry bulk density, using a nuclear density gage, and maximum penetration depth, using a recording cone penetrometer. In addition to good correlation between tree growth and selected spoil characteristics, the data demonstrated a gradual convergence of the measured spoil characteristic data over the study period.