OFFICE of SURFACE MINING
RECLAMATION and ENFORCEMENT

U.S. Department of the Interior

Graphic banner with ARRI logo and text: Trees for Appalachia's Future.

APPALACHIAN REGIONAL REFORESTATION INITIATIVE


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CORE AND SCIENCE TEAMS
__________________________ FOREST RECLAMATION ADVISORIES __________________________ FORESTRY RECLAMATION APPROACH __________________________
IN THE NEWS
__________________________ MINED LAND REFORESTATION CONFERENCES __________________________ PLANTING TREES ON LEGACY MINES __________________________ REFORESTATION AWARDS __________________________ REFORESTATION RESEARCH __________________________ STATE AND PRIVATE NURSERIES __________________________ STATEMENT OF MUTUAL INTENT

 

 

 

Planting Trees On Legacy Mines

Focused efforts by ARRI are beginning to change the way surface mines are being reclaimed by the coal industry and regulatory au­thorities currently operating in Appalachia. ARRI is ‘forward looking,’ diligently working to educate and train the active min­ing industry and regulatory personnel about the FRA in order to reclaim new surface mine disturbances to forests from this point forward.

ARRI is also ‘looking backward’ at the estimated ¾ million acres of non-forested, unused post-bond release mined lands that could be available for reforestation in the Eastern US. The reforestation guidelines for unused mined land developed by ARRI Scientists, are being applied by ARRI to selected mined sites for restoring unused mined land to native forests.  Starting in 2009, ARRI has partnered with state and federal agencies, watershed groups, coal operators, conservation groups, environmental organizations, faith-based groups, and numerous universities, colleges, and high schools to coordinate volunteer tree planting projects/events throughout Appalachia.  These events involve ARRI partner organizations and ARRI volunteers and result in the planting of trees on of previously reclaimed mine sites where reforestation was not attempted, or where the results were undesirable.  ARRI’s role in these endeavors is to facilitate communication, provide technical assistance, and to match funding sources with suitable mined land and volunteer groups.  ARRI foresters coordinate site selection and evaluation, herbicide treatments, ripping activities, species selection, tree planting, and follow-up surveys.

This post-reclamation reforestation effort has the additional benefit of outreach and awareness that is being created for proper mine land reforestation with the public, industry, and regulatory authorities.  Ripping and tree planting partnerships with several mining companies on some of their previously reclaimed mine lands have led them to embrace the FRA on their active mining operations. Many state and federal regulators involved in the volunteer tree planting projects have expressed positive attitudes for the forestry post-mining land use and employing the FRA on the ‘front-end’ of the reclamation process instead of as an ‘after the fact’ process.

After three years of piecing together tree planting projects with donated trees, in-kind services, volunteer tree planters, and very limited funding, the ARRI tree planting events have evolved into large scale projects funded by grants, cost share programs, utility companies seeking carbon credits and corporate donations. Most of this funding is used for site preparation and purchasing seedlings. In many situations volunteer tree planters are still needed. In response to the growing interest in planting trees on old mine sites, the ARRI Science Team created a non-profit organization called Green Forests Work (GFW). The GFW program is an economic development plan for Appalachia styled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. The GFW program will focus on restoring ecosystem services on mine-scarred lands and creating jobs in the process. Successful reestablishment of the hardwood forests that once dominated these lands will provide a renewable, sustainable multi-use resource that will create economic opportunities while enhancing the local and global environment. The jobs would include everything from nursery jobs, equipment operators, tree planters, forest managers, and wildlife biologists to those that may manage these sites for renewable energy and climate change mitigation.

LINKS

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 2/2/15

Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), 3 Parkway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15220
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