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Title: Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Products, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystems Services

Abstract

The overall purpose of this project is to evaluate the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on mined land, and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from forest restoration procedures. During this quarter we worked on methodologies for analyzing carbon in mine soils. A unique property of mine soils is the presence of coal and carboniferous rock particles that are present in mine soils in various sizes, quantities, and qualities. There is no existing method in the literature that may be of use for quantitative estimation of soil organic carbon (SOC) in mine soils that can successfully differentiate between pedogenic and geogenic carbon forms. In this report we present a detailed description of a 16-step method for measuring SOC in mine soils designed for and tested on a total of 30 different mine soil mixtures representing a wide spectrum of mine soils in the hard-rock region of the Appalachian coalfield. The proposed method is a combination of chemical procedure for carbonates removal, a thermal procedure for pedogenic C removal, and elemental C analysis procedure at 900 C. Our methodology provides a means to correct for the carbon loss from the more volatilemore » constituents of coal fragments in the mine soil samples and another correction factor for the protected organic matter that can also remain unoxidized following thermal pretreatment. The correction factors for coal and soil material-specific SOM were based on carbon content loss from coal and SOM determined by a parallel thermal oxidation analysis of pure ground coal fragments retrieved from the same mined site as the soil samples and of coal-free soil rock fragments of sandstone and siltstone origin.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
882001
DOE Contract Number:
FG26-02NT41619
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
01 COAL, LIGNITE, AND PEAT; 09 BIOMASS FUELS; CARBON; CARBON SEQUESTRATION; CARBONATES; COAL; ECONOMICS; ECOSYSTEMS; FORESTS; MIXTURES; ORGANIC MATTER; ORIGIN; OXIDATION; REMOVAL; SANDSTONES; SILTSTONES; SOILS; WOOD

Citation Formats

James A. Burger, J. Galbraith, T. Fox, G. Amacher, J. Sullivan, and C. Zipper. Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Products, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystems Services. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/882001.
James A. Burger, J. Galbraith, T. Fox, G. Amacher, J. Sullivan, & C. Zipper. Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Products, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystems Services. United States. doi:10.2172/882001.
James A. Burger, J. Galbraith, T. Fox, G. Amacher, J. Sullivan, and C. Zipper. Sun . "Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Products, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystems Services". United States. doi:10.2172/882001. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/882001.
@article{osti_882001,
title = {Restoring Sustainable Forests on Appalachian Mined Lands for Wood Products, Renewable Energy, Carbon Sequestration, and Other Ecosystems Services},
author = {James A. Burger and J. Galbraith and T. Fox and G. Amacher and J. Sullivan and C. Zipper},
abstractNote = {The overall purpose of this project is to evaluate the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on mined land, and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from forest restoration procedures. During this quarter we worked on methodologies for analyzing carbon in mine soils. A unique property of mine soils is the presence of coal and carboniferous rock particles that are present in mine soils in various sizes, quantities, and qualities. There is no existing method in the literature that may be of use for quantitative estimation of soil organic carbon (SOC) in mine soils that can successfully differentiate between pedogenic and geogenic carbon forms. In this report we present a detailed description of a 16-step method for measuring SOC in mine soils designed for and tested on a total of 30 different mine soil mixtures representing a wide spectrum of mine soils in the hard-rock region of the Appalachian coalfield. The proposed method is a combination of chemical procedure for carbonates removal, a thermal procedure for pedogenic C removal, and elemental C analysis procedure at 900 C. Our methodology provides a means to correct for the carbon loss from the more volatile constituents of coal fragments in the mine soil samples and another correction factor for the protected organic matter that can also remain unoxidized following thermal pretreatment. The correction factors for coal and soil material-specific SOM were based on carbon content loss from coal and SOM determined by a parallel thermal oxidation analysis of pure ground coal fragments retrieved from the same mined site as the soil samples and of coal-free soil rock fragments of sandstone and siltstone origin.},
doi = {10.2172/882001},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Apr 30 00:00:00 EDT 2006},
month = {Sun Apr 30 00:00:00 EDT 2006}
}

Technical Report:

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  • This is the first quarterly Technical Report for the period October-December, 2003. A kick-off meeting was held with NETL administrators and scientists at Morgantown, WV, on December 2, 2002. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on mined land, and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from forest restoration procedures. During this first quarterly reporting period, five Graduate Research Assistants were recruited, an MOA was drafted between Virginia Tech and three industry cooperators, preliminary field locations for controlled studies were located, and a preliminarymore » analysis of a carbon inventory of forest sites on mined land was made.« less
  • The overall purpose of this project is to evaluate the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on mined land, and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from forest restoration procedures. In this segment of work, our goal was to review methods for estimating tree survival, growth, yield and value of forests growing on surface mined land in the eastern coalfields of the USA, and to determine the extent to which carbon sequestration is influenced by these factors. Public Law 95-87, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), mandates thatmore » mined land be reclaimed in a fashion that renders the land at least as productive after mining as it was before mining. In the central Appalachian region, where prime farmland and economic development opportunities for mined land are scarce, the most practical land use choices are hayland/pasture, wildlife habitat, or forest land. Since 1977, the majority of mined land has been reclaimed as hayland/pasture or wildlife habitat, which is less expensive to reclaim than forest land, since there are no tree planting costs. As a result, there are now hundreds of thousands of hectares of grasslands and scrublands in various stages of natural succession located throughout otherwise forested mountains in the U.S. A literature review was done to develop the basis for an economic feasibility study of a range of land-use conversion scenarios. Procedures were developed for both mixed hardwoods and white pine under a set of low product prices and under a set of high product prices. Economic feasibility is based on land expectation values. Further, our review shows that three types of incentive schemes might be important: (1) lump sum payment at planting (and equivalent series of annual payments); (2) revenue incentive at harvest; and (3) benefit based on carbon volume.« less
  • The overall purpose of this project is to evaluate the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on mined land, and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from forest restoration procedures. In this quarterly report, we present a preliminary comparison of the carbon sequestration benefits for two forest types used to convert abandoned grasslands for carbon sequestration. Annual mixed hardwood benefits, based on total stand carbon volume present at the end of a given year, range from a minimum of $0/ton of carbon to a maximum of $5.26/ton of carbon (low prices). Whitemore » pine benefits based on carbon volume range from a minimum of $0/ton of carbon to a maximum of $18.61/ton of carbon (high prices). The higher maximum white pine carbon payment can primarily be attributed to the fact that the shorter rotation means that payments for white pine carbon are being made on far less cumulative carbon tonnage than for that of the long-rotation hardwoods. Therefore, the payment per ton of white pine carbon needs to be higher than that of the hardwoods in order to render the conversion to white pine profitable by the end of a rotation. These carbon payments may seem appealingly low to the incentive provider. However, payments (not discounted) made over a full rotation may add up to approximately $17,493/ha for white pine (30-year rotation), and $18,820/ha for mixed hardwoods (60-year rotation). The literature suggests a range of carbon sequestration costs, from $0/ton of carbon to $120/ton of carbon, although the majority of studies suggest a cost below $50/ ton of carbon, with van Kooten et al. (2000) suggesting a cutoff cost of $20/ton of carbon sequestered. Thus, the ranges of carbon payments estimated for this study fall well within the ranges of carbon sequestration costs estimated in previous studies.« less
  • The overall purpose of this project is to evaluate the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on mined land, and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from forest restoration procedures. In this quarterly report, we present a preliminary comparison of the carbon sequestration potential of forests growing on 14 mined sites in a seven-state region in the Midwestern and Eastern Coalfields. Carbon contents of these forests were compared to adjacent forests on non-mined land. The study was installed as a 3 x 3 factorial in a random complete block design with threemore » replications at each location. The treatments include three forest types (white pine, hybrid poplar, mixed hardwood) and three silvicultural regimes (competition control, competition control plus tillage, competition control plus tillage plus fertilization). Each individual treatment plot is 0.5 acres. Each block of nine plots requires 4.5 acres, and the complete installation at each site requires 13.5 acres. The plots at all three locations have been installed and the plot corners marked with PVC stakes. GPS coordinates of each plot have been collected. Soil samples were collected from each plot to characterize the sites prior to treatment. Analysis of soil samples was completed and these data are being used to prepare fertilizer prescriptions. Fertilizer prescripts will be developed for each site. Fertilizer will be applied during the second quarter 2004. Data are included as appendices in this report. As part of our economic analysis of mined land reforestation, we focused on the implications of a shift in reforestation burden from the landowner to the mine operator. Results suggest that the reforestation of mined lands as part of the mining operation creates a viable and profitable forest enterprise for landowners with greater potential for carbon sequestration.« less
  • The overall purpose of this project is to evaluate the biological and economic feasibility of restoring high-quality forests on mined land, and to measure carbon sequestration and wood production benefits that would be achieved from forest restoration procedures. We are currently estimating the acreage of lands in VA, WV, KY, OH, and PA mined under SMCRA and reclaimed to non-forested post-mining land uses that are not currently under active management, and therefore can be considered as available for carbon sequestration. To determine actual sequestration under different forest management scenarios, a field study was installed as a 3 x 3 factorialmore » in a random complete block design with three replications at each of three locations, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. The treatments included three forest types (white pine, hybrid poplar, mixed hardwood) and three silvicultural regimes (competition control, competition control plus tillage, competition control plus tillage plus fertilization). Each individual treatment plot is 0.5 acres. Each block of nine plots requires 4.5 acres, and the complete installation at each site requires 13.5 acres. The plots at all three locations have been installed and the plot corners marked with PVC stakes. GPS coordinates of each plot have been collected. Soil samples were collected from each plot to characterize the sites prior to treatment. Baseline soil carbon was determined for each of the eighty-one plots. Fertility analysis of soil samples was completed and these data were used to prepare fertilizer prescriptions and the pre-designated plots were fertilized. We also evaluated economic-based policy instruments that are designed to mitigate the reforestation burden borne by the owner of reclaimed mined land. Results suggest that although profitability of reforestation of these previously reclaimed mine lands may be achievable on better sites under lower interest rates, substantial payments would be required to reach ''profitability'' under many conditions.« less