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Evaluating the influence of the Forestry Reclamation Approach on throughfall quantity in eastern Kentucky

January 1, 2022

The Appalachian Region is a rich forested ecosystem that has been impacted by coal mining. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 was enacted to resolve many of the environmental problems caused by surface mining. Reclamation practices resulted in excessive soil compaction and use of nonnative grasses and shrubs that have altered hydrologic processes. The Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) is a best practice for reestablishing forested ecosystems on mined lands in Appalachia. This project evaluated precipitation throughfall in reforested 10- and 20-year-old FRA sites and unmined 100-year-old forest stands as a metric for evaluating the return of forest hydrologic function after reclamation. Stands of coniferous and deciduous trees were evaluated independently for each age class. Throughfall rates were significantly impacted by tree type and age. Throughfall in coniferous trees was less than in deciduous trees, and throughfall in the 10-year-old deciduous trees tended to be highest. Throughfall was also significantly impacted by storm characteristics. Higher rainfall depth and longer duration resulted in significantly larger throughfall depths under both coniferous and deciduous stands, whereas increased intensity increased throughfall depths for the 10- and 100-year-old plots, but not for the 20-year-old plots. As canopy closure occurs in young FRA forests, throughfall rates resemble those reported for young, naturally regenerating forests in the region. Results may help guide management of forested watershed strategies to reduce surface runoff and local flooding on reclaimed surface mined lands.

Publication Year 2022
Title Evaluating the influence of the Forestry Reclamation Approach on throughfall quantity in eastern Kentucky
DOI 10.21000/rcsc-202200009
Authors Morgan Gerlitz, Carmen T. Agouridis, Tanja N. Williamson, Chris D. Barton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Reclamation Sciences
Index ID 70250096
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center