Skip to main content

Possible use of wetlands in ecological restoration of surface mined lands

Abstract

Surface mining for coal has dramatically altered millions of hectares throughout the Appalachian region of eastern North America. Flat benches and vertical high walls have replaced well-drained slopes, and wetlands have developed ‘accidentally’ on abandoned benches. Surface mining is continuing in this region, but new regulations do not include specifications for wetland construction in the reclamation process. Recent research has suggested that many ecosystem services appropriate for the Appalachian landscape could be performed by constructed wetlands. Inclusion of wetland construction in a reclamation plan could lead to a net increase in wetland acreage locally, as well as offset the loss of natural and/or accidental wetlands. By studying accidentally-formed wetlands, we hope to determine what species can be established in wetlands that are constructed to enhance nontreatment goals in reclamation. Study sites included 14 emergent wetlands in Wise County, Virginia. Sampling in June and August detected a total of 94 species in 36 vascular plant families. Obligate wetlands species, species that occur in wetlands over 99 percent of the time, were found in all 14 sites and included 26 species. The presence of so many wetland species without intentional management efforts suggests that wetland establishment could become a common component of mine reclamation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Arata, A. A., 1959. Ecology of muskrats in strip mine ponds in southern Illinois. J. Wildl. Managem. 23(2): 177–186.

    Google Scholar 

  • Atkinson, R. B., in press. Constructed wetlands as a component of post mining land uses: Some obstacles and solutions. In: J. R. Pratt & J. R. Stauffer (eds), Volume dedicated to John Cairns, Jr.

  • Bell, R., 1956. Aquatic and marginal vegetation of strip mine waters in souther Illinois. Ill. Acad. Sci. Trans. 48: 85–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brinson, M. M., 1993. Changes in the functioning of wetlands along environmental gradients. Wetlands 13(2): 65–74.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brooks, R. P., D. E. Samuel & J. B. Hill (eds), 1985. Proceedings of a Conference: Wetlands and Water Management on Mined Lands. Pennsylvania State Univ., Univ. Park, Pennsylvania.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cowardin, L. M., V. Carter, F. C. Golet & E. T. LaRoe, 1979. Classification of wetlands and deepwater habitats of the United States. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv. FWS/OBS-79-31.

  • Environmental Laboratory, 1987. Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual, Tech. Rep. Y-87–1. U.S.Army Engin. Waterways Exper. Stat., Vicksburg, Mississippi.

    Google Scholar 

  • FICWD (Federal Interagency Committee for Wetland Delineation), 1989. Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands. U.S. Army Corps Engin., U.S. Environ. Protect. Agency, U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv., and U.S.D.A. Soil Conserv. Serv., Washington, D.C., Coop. Tech. Pub.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harvill, A. M.Jr., T. R. Bradley, C. E. Stevens, T. F. Wieboldt, D. M. E. Ware, D. W. Ogle, G. W. Ramsey & G. P. Fleming, 1992. Atlas of the Virginia Flora. Virginia Botanical Associates, Burkeville, Virginia. 144 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Konik, J., 1980. Some physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of non-problem waters occurring on lands surface-mined for coal. Coop. Wildl. Res. Lab., Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale, Illinois, Doc. No. 80/14.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mitsch, W. J. & J. G. Gosselink, 1986. Wetlands. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York. 539 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mueller-Dombois, D. & H. Ellenberg, 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. 547 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reed, P. B., Jr., 1988. National list of plant species that occur in wetlands: National summary. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv., Biol. Rep. 88(24).

  • Sather, J. H. & R. D. Smith, 1984. Proceedings of the National Wetland Assessment Workshop. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv., FWS/OBS-84-12.

  • Shaw, S. P. & C. G. Fredine, 1939. Wetlands of the United States: Their extent and their value to waterfowl and other wildlife. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv., Circ. 39.

  • Sly, G. R., 1976. Small mammal succession on strip-mined land in Vigo County, Indiana. Amer. Midl. Natur. 95(2): 257–267.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tiner, R. W., Jr., 1987. Status and recent trends in five Mid-Atlantic States: Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. U.S. Fish Wildl. Serv., Region 5, Nat. Wetlands Invent. Proj., Newton Corner, Mass. & U.S. Environ. Protect. Agency, Region III, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Coop. Pub.

  • Zipper, C., 1986. Opportunities for improved surface coal mine reclamation in the Central Appalachian coal fields. Ph.D. Dissert., Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, Virginia.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Atkinson, R.B., Cairns, J. Possible use of wetlands in ecological restoration of surface mined lands. J Aquat Ecosyst Stress Recov 3, 139–144 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00042943

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00042943

Key words

  • accidental wetlands
  • colonization
  • hydrophytes
  • restoration ecology
  • surface mining