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Green Forests Work Makes Big Strides in Reforesting Mined Lands

Tree planting in Alabama; photo by Green Forests Work.
2014 was a record-breaking year for Green Forests Work (GFW). This non-profit, which re-establishes healthy and productive forests on formerly mined lands in Appalachia, planted 225,000 trees from northern Alabama to Central Pennsylvania. Nearly 2,000 volunteers and scores of mine operators, conservation and natural resource organizations, and school children dedicated their time and passion to assist in controlling exotic vegetation, planting hardwood trees, and performing follow-up evaluations.
  • GFW kicked off the planting season in Cullman County, Alabama. In partnership with Alabama Department of Labor Abandoned Mined Land Reclamation, Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, Green Industry Portal, and Drummound Coal, 6,783 trees were planted on a surface mine. This is the second year of planting in Alabama;
  • In West Virginia, work continued on an ecological restoration project on 2,600 acres of the Lambert watershed. Through a grant from American Rivers, GFW partnered with the Monongahela National Forest, ARRI, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Center, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative to enhance the land via soil decompaction, wetland restoration, woody debris loading, and planting of native trees and shrubs. GFW and partners use the planting events for education and outreach. A local middle school volunteered and learned the importance of red spruce to the ecosystem, why wetlands matter, and the role restoration plays in protecting ecosystems from climate change; and
  • In Ohio, the Brannon Home Place reforestation project is part of a family owned farm in Coshocton County. The planting prescription included more than 21,000 seedlings, including 1,100 Restoration Chestnuts 1.0, and other native hardwoods. This planting was part of a Conservation Innovation Grant that was awarded to The American Chestnut Foundation by NRCS in 2011 to establish mixed hardwood/American Chestnut forests on former minded lands. The site will serve both groups as a demonstration area to allow landowners and other stakeholders to see practices that can lead to successful forest establishment on formerly mined lands.

The efforts above and many others are converting highly compromised lands back into healthy and productive native forests.