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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 77 No. 2, p. 337-349
     
    Received: Oct 3, 2012
    Published: March 19, 2013


    * Corresponding author(s): czip@vt.edu
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doi:10.2136/sssaj2012.0335

Rebuilding Soils on Mined Land for Native Forests in Appalachia

  1. Carl E. Zipper *a,
  2. James A. Burgerb,
  3. Christopher D. Bartonc and
  4. Jeffrey G. Skousend
  1. a Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Blacksburg, VA 24061
    b Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation Blacksburg, VA 24061
    c Univ. of Kentucky Forestry Lexington, KY 40506
    d West Virginia Univ. Plant and Soil Science Morgantown, WV 26506

Abstract

The eastern U.S. Appalachian region supports the world’s most extensive temperate forests, but surface mining for coal has caused forest loss. New reclamation methods are being employed with the intent of restoring native forest on Appalachian mined lands. Mine soil construction is essential to the reforestation process. Here, we review scientific literature concerning selection of mining materials for mine soil construction where forest ecosystem restoration is the reclamation goal. Successful establishment and productive growth of native Appalachian trees has been documented on mine soils with coarse fragment contents as great as 60% but with low soluble salt levels and slightly to moderately acidic pHs, properties characteristic of the region’s native soils. Native tree productivity on some Appalachian mined lands where weathered rock spoils were used to reconstruct soils was found comparable to productivity on native forest sites. Weathered rock spoils, however, are lower in bioavailable N and P than native Appalachian soils and they lack live seed banks which native soils contain. The body of scientific research suggests use of salvaged native soils for mine soil construction when forest ecosystem restoration is the reclamation goal, and that weathered rock spoils are generally superior to unweathered rock spoils when constructing mine soils for this purpose.

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Copyright © 2013. Copyright © by the Soil Science Society of America, Inc.