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Reforestation of Appalachia’s Mine Lands

October 21, 2020

a forest in Appalachia



Across Appalachia, thousands of acres of formerly mined land sits barren or has been converted to gravelly grassland. These sites were once home to thriving forest ecosystems and some of our region’s most astounding biodiversity. Through a specific reforestation process known as the Forestry Reclamation Approach, these sites can be improved by removing invasive and non-native plants, loosening compacted soil, and finally planting a mix of native trees. After reforestation, these sites have higher biodiversity, help naturally clean and filter rainwater entering into nearby streams, and provide long-term economic benefits to the communities they surround. In this River Talk, Cumberland River Compact Executive Director Mekayle Houghton and Senior Program Manager of Watershed Planning, Jed Grubbs, join Dr. Chris Barton with Green Forests Work to discuss their approach to reforestation in Appalachia.

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About Green Forests Work:

Green Forests WorkGreen Forests Work’s vision is to create a renewable and sustainable multi-use resource that will provide economic opportunities while enhancing the local and global environment. By converting reclaimed, non-native grasslands and shrublands into healthy, productive forestland, Green Forests Work is effectively addressing two needs of the region. Their reforestation projects provide jobs for equipment operators, nursery workers, and tree planters, and improve the environment by eradicating non-native species and restoring ecosystem services.

Dr. Chris Barton: Chris Barton is the Founder and President of Green Forests Work, a non-profit restoration group, and also a professor of forestry hydrology and watershed management at the University of Kentucky. Through these dual roles, Chris leads research efforts and on-the-ground action to restore mine lands throughout Appalachia.

In this podcast: