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Sept. 12 symposium highlights advances in coal mine restoration


A young forest that was planted on a reclaimed mine as part of the Powell River Project. Chris Fields-Johnson, a graduate student in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences from Richmond, Va., stands in a young forest that was planted on a reclaimed mine as part of the Powell River Project.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 7, 2012 – A conference highlighting Virginia Tech’s research on improving reclaimed surface-mine lands in Southwest Virginia's coalfield region will be held Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 1-4:30 p.m. at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise at the Chapel of All Faiths in Wise, Va.

The Powell River Project Symposium will include presentations by Virginia Tech faculty and graduate students about their ongoing work to restore mining lands for productive uses while protecting the environment.

“Researchers will communicate their findings to the coal industry, natural resource agency personnel, and local citizens,” said Carl Zipper, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Powell River Project. Zipper is also a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist. “Anyone who has an interest in these topics is welcome to attend.”

Subjects that will be discussed include water quality issues; reforestation, biomass production, soil development, and wildlife habitat on reclaimed mine areas; and reconstruction of streams on lands that have been affected by mining.

Since 1980, the Powell River Project has included research and education programs to enhance restoration of mined lands and to benefit communities in Southwest Virginia’s coalfield region. The Powell River Project is a cooperative project of Virginia Tech and the coal industry. Its 1,100-acre center is a hub of research programs focused on developing practical, cost-effective solutions to natural resource problems in central Appalachian coal mining areas. The center also provides a home to education programs operated through Virginia Cooperative Extension that put completed research into practice.

The Powell River Project works collaboratively with other educational entities in the area, including UVa-Wise, where the symposium will be held.

More information on the symposium and mine restoration can be found on the Powell River Project’s website.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.