mining sites in WV
“Planting a tree is only one step in the process” in rebuilding woodland, says Christopher Barton, a professor of forest hydrology at the Appalachian Center of the University of Kentucky and founder of Green Forests Work.
In the 1980’s West Virginia coal companies compacted the mountainsides of coal mining sites with bulldozers while attempting to plant “desperation species” – grasses with shallow roots and non-native trees – that complied with federal law but did not restore the forest.
Green Forests Work, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, are utilizing a “deep ripping” approach that gives rainwater and tree roots a better chance to push down into the soil. On old mining sites within West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest where the team has deep-ripped over the last decade, the survival rate of saplings has been around 90%.