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Continued Success Reforesting Surface Mined Lands in Coal Country

Students from North Carolina participate in Green Forests Work planting event at University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest. Photo: Green Forests Work.
The 2015 planting season was Green Forests Work second most productive year. Nearly 620 acres were reforested with the help of almost 1,700 volunteers. Some of the year’s major accomplishments include:
  • University of Kentucky's Robinson Forest - GFW was proud to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the US Forest Service – State and Private Forestry (USFS), and many others on the Appalachian Forest Renewal Initiative. This Initiative not only focuses on restoring forest habitat on mined lands across Appalachia, but it also seeks to improve avian habitat and water quality in new and mature forest landscapes. At the Paul Van Booven Wildlife Management Area at the University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest, restoration activities included the control of autumn olive (an invasive shrub that is abundant throughout the site), soil de-compaction, native tree and shrub plantings, and stream crossing improvements. Early successional habitat development and future mature hardwood stands will benefit several sensitive bird species that inhabit Robinson Forest, including the blue-winged warbler, Kentucky warbler, and the cerulean warbler. Test plantings of the “Restoration Chestnuts 1.0” and shortleaf pine were also incorporated in the restoration project.
  • Pennsylvania State Game Lands - This reforestation project was a collaborative effort by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the Arbor Day Foundation (ADF), The American Chestnut Foundation, the Appalachian Region Reforestation Initiative, and GFW to convert approximately 38.7 acres of strip mined land into forestland so that it is more productive for wildlife. The site was treated with herbicides to control the grasses and then cross-ripped. With funding provided by the ADF, a professional tree planting contractor was hired, and the site was planted with high-value hardwoods and trees and shrubs that will benefit targeted wildlife species. Targeted wildlife species include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and timber rattlesnakes. Although only a few species were targeted, the habitat heterogeneity created by this project will benefit numerous other species as well, including insects, songbirds, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.