Stripmine reclamation typically refers to practices employed to re-establish acceptable vegetative cover on spoils that have been removed to uncover mineral resources such as coal. In much of the coal-mining region of the United States, mined land reclamation typically consists of planting tall fescue and tree seedlings to control erosion. Tall fescue persists better than many other species planted on minespoils in temperate climates because of its low fertility requirements, adaptation to a wide range of soil pH, and tolerance of drought and poor drainage (Evanylo et al., 2005; Ditsch and Collins, 2000; Haering et al., 2004).
Vast areas in the U.S. Appalachia and Midwest that were mined before the establishment of rules by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 have been overseeded predominantly with tall fescue for soil stabilization (Johnson and Skousen, 1995). Akala and Lal (2001) suggested that these lands could serve as significant sinks for C sequestration. They measured significant increases in soil organic C in the surface and subsoil over a period of 25 yr following reclamation in Ohio (Table 28-2). Their measurements indicated that minespoils reclaimed with pasture increased the soil organic C pool by 50 to 75 Mg ha-1 over 25 yr in the surface 30 cm.
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Table 28-2. Accumulation of soil organic C in mine spoils covered with topsoil and seeded to big bluestem, little bluestem, orchardgrass, tall fescue, switchgrass, timothy, birdsfoot trefoil, and alfalfa (from Akala and Lal, 2001).