Appalachia’s Coal-Mining Legacy: Reforesting for the Future
SUBSCRIBE TO RIVER TALKS ON APPLE PODCASTS, SPOTIFY, OR GOOGLE
The Appalachian Mountains serve many roles: important habitat for incredible biodiversity, inspiration for artists, and a destination for tourists. But many lands in Appalachia have also been working lands, driving economic prosperity in the region through industries like forestry and mining. For many decades, coal miners in Appalachia contributed greatly to the American workforce and to the industrial might of our country. But today, fewer and fewer jobs remain, and thousands of acres of surface-mined land sit barren or have been converted to gravelly grassland. Through a specific reforestation process known as the Forestry Reclamation Approach, formerly mined sites can be improved. After reforestation, these sites have higher biodiversity, can help to naturally clean and filter rainwater entering into nearby streams, and provide long-term economic benefits to surrounding communities. The future of Appalachian ecosystems and communities lies in our ability to reckon with these legacies of the past.
In this River Talk, you will hear from Cliff Drouet, a Forester with the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, talk about the legacy of the coal industry in this region and what the future holds.
About Cliff Drouet:
Cliff Drouet career in forestry spans three decades and includes work with timber companies as a procurement forester, as an independent forestry manager, and as a forester with federal agencies including Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Office of Surface Mining.
In this Podcast:
- The benefits of forests for wildlife habitat, clean water, climate mitigation, and economic impact.
- An overview of the forestry reclamation approach and the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative.
- The ways forestry can begin to transform communities that relied on coal mining.
- The intersection between abandoned mine lands and other environmental hazards like flooding.
Learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode:
- Painting the Smokies Exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum
- Elk in Kentucky
- Cumberland Forest Project from The Nature Conservancy
- “Abandoned mine lands restoration brings excitement, but long-term challenges remain for mountain communities”
- River Talks Episode “Reforestation of Appalachia’s Mine Lands”.