See more from this Session: Symposium--Applying Our Knowledge: Communications Between Forest, Range, and Wildland Soil Scientists and Policy Makers
Monday, October 17, 2011: 11:15 AM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 217B, Concourse Level
The demand for energy throughout the world grows each day, and coal will be needed to meet a large portion of that demand. Forests and soils on more than 600,000 ha of the Appalachian landscape have already been drastically disturbed and more than 15,000 ha are disturbed by surface mining each year. Mountaintop removal coal mining techniques have evolved to mine larger land areas and multiple coal seams at greater depths. Litigation associated with mining permits is increasing, and permits are now scrutinized by multiple federal and state agencies due to greater potential environmental impact. New reclamation methods and approaches also must evolve to minimize cumulative effects on aquatic, terrestrial, and human resources. Since the implementation of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act in 1978, coal operators in the Appalachian region have largely replaced native forests with grassland on compacted mine spoils. As stakeholders of the mining and reclamation process have begun to appreciate the value of forest ecosystems and the products and services they provide, there is greater emphasis on reforestation and proper ecosystem functioning on reclaimed mined land. During the past 30 years, scientists at Virginia Tech University have done research on new reclamation approaches including the integration of the biology of reforestation with industry operations and regulatory requirements, some prompted by litigation by environmental groups. Doing soil and forest research within the context of a complex institutional arrangement involving landowners, the coal industry, multiple regulatory agencies, and a concerned public provides an excellent case study for learning how to apply our research results to affect policy and practice on forest, range, and wildland soils.