Carbon Sequestration on Surface Mine Lands

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Since the implementation of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) in May of 1978, many opportunities have been lost for the reforestation of surface mines in the eastern United States. Research has shown that excessive compaction of spoil material in the backfilling and grading process is the biggest impediment to the establishment of productive forests as a post-mining land use (Ashby, 1998, Burger et al., 1994, Graves et al., 2000). Stability of mine sites was a prominent concern among regulators and mine operators in the years immediately following the implementation of SMCRA. These concerns resulted ... continued below

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Graves, Donald; Barton, Christopher; Sweigard, Richard; Warner, Richard & Agouridis, Carmen March 31, 2006.

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Description

Since the implementation of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) in May of 1978, many opportunities have been lost for the reforestation of surface mines in the eastern United States. Research has shown that excessive compaction of spoil material in the backfilling and grading process is the biggest impediment to the establishment of productive forests as a post-mining land use (Ashby, 1998, Burger et al., 1994, Graves et al., 2000). Stability of mine sites was a prominent concern among regulators and mine operators in the years immediately following the implementation of SMCRA. These concerns resulted in the highly compacted, flatly graded, and consequently unproductive spoils of the early post-SMCRA era. However, there is nothing in the regulations that requires mine sites to be overly compacted as long as stability is achieved. It has been cultural barriers and not regulatory barriers that have contributed to the failure of reforestation efforts under the federal law over the past 27 years. Efforts to change the perception that the federal law and regulations impede effective reforestation techniques and interfere with bond release must be implemented. Demonstration of techniques that lead to the successful reforestation of surface mines is one such method that can be used to change perceptions and protect the forest ecosystems that were indigenous to these areas prior to mining. The University of Kentucky initiated a large-scale reforestation effort to address regulatory and cultural impediments to forest reclamation in 2003. During the three years of this project 383,000 trees were planted on over 556 acres in different physiographic areas of Kentucky (Table 1, Figure 1). Species used for the project were similar to those that existed on the sites before mining was initiated (Table 2). A monitoring program was undertaken to evaluate growth and survival of the planted species as a function of spoil characteristics and reclamation practice. In addition, experiments were integrated within the reforestation effort to address specific questions pertaining to sequestration of carbon (C) on these sites.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FC26-02NT41624
  • DOI: 10.2172/899231 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 899231
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc888284

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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Creation Date

  • March 31, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 8:52 p.m.

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Graves, Donald; Barton, Christopher; Sweigard, Richard; Warner, Richard & Agouridis, Carmen. Carbon Sequestration on Surface Mine Lands, report, March 31, 2006; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc888284/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.