Ernie Fletcher                                                                                                                              LaJuana S. Wilcher

      Governor                                                                           Capital Plaza Tower                                                              Secretary

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Campaign to promote planting of hardwood trees on mine lands

            LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 17, 2005) – The reforestation of coal-mined lands using high-value hardwood trees will be promoted under an initiative signed today by Governor Ernie Fletcher, University of Kentucky President Lee Todd and representatives of the Kentucky coal industry.

            In a ceremony at The University of Kentucky/Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) Arboretum, Governor Fletcher and Dr. Todd became partners with six other states and their universities in the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) started by the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM). The states, their universities and OSM are partnering in an effort to promote the planting of more high-value hardwood trees on active and abandoned coal mines in this region.

            Governor Fletcher said the partnership fits with the goals of the state’s new, comprehensive energy strategy.

            “We want to grow our economy, utilize our resources in a sustainable manner and at the same time, protect and maintain our commitment to environmental quality,” said Governor Fletcher. “The ARRI initiative compliments our state’s energy strategy to promote progressive reclamation practices through reforestation.”

Governor Fletcher also said that more than 1 million native hardwood trees have already been planted throughout the Kentucky coalfields in an existing partnership with UK and others.           

Dr. Todd said the program is an extension of UK’s statewide mission to improve conditions throughout the Commonwealth. 

“One of the primary tenets of our land-grant mission is to conduct research that will promote positive change throughout Kentucky,” said Todd.  “Today we are seeing some of that research in action with the ARRI.  UK researchers have invested countless hours studying best practices for planting trees on abandoned coal mines.  We are excited to partner with the state, the Office of Surface Mining and other organizations as we work to make Kentucky a better place to live.” 

            “Over the last 50 years of Surface Mining in Appalachia, the vast majority of mined land was originally forest,” said Brent Wahlquist, director of OSM’s Appalachian Regional Office.  “It is our hope that through this initiative, perhaps 50 to 100 years from now it can be forest again, and be virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the landscape.”

            The member states that have signed the ARRI agreement are working to increase the planting of economically desirable trees on mine sites through the use of Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) technology – a five-step reclamation process, proven by forestry research to increase tree survival and productivity.

            Reforestation provides multiple economic benefits including increased timber value, landowner tax reduction, enhanced recreational opportunities, jobs for the local economy and an economically viable post-mining land use option for both the landowner and the mining company.

            Reforestation benefits Kentucky’s environment through soil and water conservation, improvement of overall water quality, carbon sequestration and enhanced wildlife habitat.

            Other states participating in the ARRI are Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.