Paper No. 46-5
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
A FOUR-YEAR EVALUATION OF THE FORESTRY RECLAMATION APPROACH(FRA) FOR THE AVONDALE, PA RECLAMATION PROJECT
In 2017, the Forestry Reclamation Approach was initiated as a novel approach building on the traditional Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) reclamation methods at the reclaimed Avondale site located in the northern anthracite coal fields of eastern Plymouth, Pennsylvania. In this study we evaluate the success of FRA at the reclaimed Avondale site. Five-thousand native tree saplings were planted in a 15-acre portion of the mine site, including white pine, trembling aspen, white oak, red oak, chestnut oak, and hybrid chestnut. Survival and growth of those saplings were assessed from within permanent 10 x10 m plots over four years. Sapling locations were determined with high-precision GPS (Trimble unit with Zephyr). In 2021, drone imagery, which was processed using photogrammetric methods to create 3D surface models (i.e., canopy, elevation, etc.) allowed for the assignment of topographic position index (ridge, swale, slope) for each tree. The data was then compiled to prepare maps of the area and analyze patterns between the geospatial location of saplings with their survival (as a function of size), growth rates, local site conditions, and environmental factors. Soil pit testing was conducted in the summer of 2021 with 42 plots and fifteen random samples dug from across the site. Soil analysis was completed in the field for texture and color using the munsell color chart and in the lab for soil conductivity, organic content, total phosphorus, iron, and nitrate using pH EPA guidelines. Point soil data (1D) was used to create models predicting parameters (2D) across the site. Additionally, geophysical electrical surveys were conducted to better understand subsurface groundwater saturation/flow pathways. A regression analysis was processed comparing topographic position index soil parameters, and electrical properties to the growth rate and survival of tree species found at the site for all four years (trembling aspen, chestnut oak, white pine, staghorn sumac). Results of the study can help explain ideal site conditions necessary for success of the FRA method in other such sites.