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Virginia Tech's Powell River Project co-hosts conference on growing trees on mined land


BLACKSBURG, Va., July 24, 2007 – "Mined Land Reforestation: Science and Practice" is the theme of the Mined Land Reforestation Conference to be held in Abingdon, Va., on Aug. 7-8, 2007.

Hosted by Virginia Tech's Powell River Project and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the conference will report advanced mine reforestation practices being developed through scientific research and adopted by the coal industry, and will present research findings with the potential to further improve mine reforestation success.

The program will include presentations by personnel representing industry, government agencies, and universities and a field tour.

“The program will allow time for discussion among the various parties who must work together to achieve effective reforestation on active coal-surface mines,” said Carl Zipper, director of the Powell River Project.

The agenda and presenters include Brent Wahlquist, Appalachian regional director of U.S. Office of Surface Mining, talking about the agency’s commitment to better mine reforestation; Bob Zik, of TECO Coal, who will provide "A Coal Miner's Perspective on Mine Reforestation;" and Les Vincent of the Virginia Division of Mined Land Reclamation, who will address related efforts by the mine regulatory agencies as “A State-Federal Reforestation Initiative." Virginia Tech forestry professor James Burger will speak about advances in scientific knowledge that have made the “Forestry Reclamation Approach” a cost-effective option for reclaiming active coal-surface mines in a way that meets regulatory requirements. Professors Jeff Skousen of West Virginia University, and Christopher Barton and Richard Warner of the University of Kentucky will also be on the program.

Representatives of Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia mining and natural resource firms, and mining consultants will discuss their companies’ perspectives toward the improved reforestation techniques that will be discussed at the conference. There will also be a session on "Federal and State Regulations, Bond Release, and the Forestry Reclamation Approach," a panel discussion on "Coordination to Achieve Reforestation Success" to address strategies for coordination among parties who are involved in the mining-reclamation process that is essential to reforestation success. Other topics to be addressed include "Mining and Mine Reforestation Influences on Watershed Hydrology" and "the Economics of Mine Reforestation."

On Wednesday, there will be a tour to visit two Virginia coal mining operations that are using the Forestry Reclamation Approach during reclamation. The Field Tour will also visit long-term reforestation plantings on mines sites at the Powell River Project Research and Education Center in Wise County.

The event is sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining. Co-hosts are the American Chestnut Foundation, Eastern Coal Council, National Council of Coal Lessors, National Mining Association, the Nature Conservancy, and the Virginia Mining Association.

Exhibits will be provided by mining consultants, forestry consultants who work with the mining industry, tree planters, vendors of mine reforestation products, and others. Posters will describe scientific research studies and mine reclamation practices.

The conference is intended for personnel representing coal mining firms, mineral-bearing lands owners, mining consultants, natural resource agencies, scientists with mined land reforestation expertise, students, and interested members of the public. The first day's activities will include presentations by scientific, industry, and agency personnel who are involved with the development and application of coal mine reforestation practices, and active discussion. The second day of the conference will be a Field Tour of operating mines and research sites where advanced mine reforestation practices are being developed and utilized.

Information about the conference is available online. Contact Carl Zipper, Powell River Project director, at 540-231-9782.