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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-4—SOIL FERTILITY & PLANT NUTRITION

Forest Soil Productivity of Mined Land in the Midwestern and Eastern Coalfield Regions


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 68 No. 3, p. 833-844
    Received: Dec 11, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): jaburger@vt.edu
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  1. J. A. Rodrigue and
  2. J. A. Burger *
  1. Dep. of Forestry (0324), 228 Cheatham Hall, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061


Our goal was to determine the effects of surface mining on forest land productivity in the eastern coalfields of the USA before the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), and to determine the extent to which selected mine soil properties influenced forest productivity. The site productivity of 14 mined and eight nonmined sites in the eastern and midwestern coalfields were compared. Results show that site productivity of nonmined sites and 12 of the 14 mined sites was similar. Sites with low productivity were shallow, had high coarse fragment contents, and had lower fertility. Regression analysis identified five influential soil properties affecting site quality, which included soil profile base saturation (BS), total coarse fragments, total available water, C horizon total porosity, and soil profile electrical conductivity (EC). These five properties explained 52% of the variation in tree growth. Forests on most prelaw mined sites were just as productive as the forests on unmined adjacent sites and can be used as a benchmark to assess the impacts of current reclamation on mine soil quality and forest productivity.

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