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Stand Characteristics and Productivity Potential of Indiana Surface Mines Reclaimed Under SMCRA

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The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) addresses a wide range of environmental concerns. However, its impacts on forest stand development and productive potential have only recently been investigated. We surveyed the vegetation and forest productivity on 22 surface mine sites throughout the coal-bearing region of Indiana that were reclaimed to forest cover under the provisions of SMCRA 7–14 years prior to sampling. Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) were the most widely occurring tree species. Tall fescue and goldenrod were the most widely occurring nonarborescent species. Median site index (base age 50 for black oak) was 30 ft. Although satisfying forest cover stocking requirements for bond release, these reclaimed surface mines almost always displayed a level of productivity far below those of native forests typical of this region. Reclamation techniques differing from those used on these study sites are needed to restore forest productivity to surface-mined lands while still complying with SMCRA.
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Keywords: Black locust; forest productivity; green ash; herbaceous competition; strip mine reclamation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2006

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