, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 161-179

Wetlands and coal surface mining in Western Kentucky — A regional impact assessment

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Abstract

A wetland atlas (Mitschet al. 1983) was developed for a 3960 km2 region of the Western Coalfield in Kentucky to inventory the wetlands there and to present a regional assessment of coal surface mining. Both the methodology and the results of the atlas are presented as they relate to wetland management. The atlas was designed to present the location, type, and extent of wetlands as well as useful environmental and ecological information for both wetland managers and coal mine operators. The study identified 460 km2 of wetlands with about 84 percent as broad-leaved deciduous forested wetlands. There were also 5.6 km2 of needle-leaved deciduous wetlands (bald cypress swamps) and 24.3 km2 of persistent emergent wetlands, scrub-shrub wetlands, and dead forested wetlands. Surface mines were also identified from aerial photography for the atlas and were often shown to be contiguous with existing wetlands. Data on hydrology, water chemistry, and fish and wildlife resources were gathered from several sources to supplement the mapping and inventory results. The complete inventory showed that surface mining had several impacts on wetlands, including 1) direct removal, 2) acid drainage, 3) sedimentation, and 4) altered hydroperiod.