Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design



Committee Chair

Jeff Skousen.


Commercial forestry as a post-mining land use in West Virginia requires an average of 1.2-m or more of weathered brown sandstone and topsoil on the spoil surface after regrading to the final land topography. Commercially valuable hardwood trees are to be planted in this substrate, and survival and growth of these trees must be monitored over a 12-year bonding period. Success of the commercial hardwood planting is based on the growth of white pine ( Pinus strobus L.), which must achieve greater than 0.45 meters of average growth per year. At the Catenary surface mine in 2005, three, 2.8-ha plots were constructed: (1) 1.5-m of weathered brown sandstone, (2) 1.2-m of weathered brown sandstone, and (3) 1.5-m of unweathered gray sandstone. Half of each 2.8-ha plot was compacted, where dozer tracks completely covered the surface, while the other half had only one-pass from a dozer. In March 2005, eleven species of trees were planted into these plots. The objective of this research was to evaluate soil characteristics important to trees on these areas and to determine survival, volume, and percent change in height and diameter of each tree species. After one growing season, 91% of tree species survived on the 1.5-m brown sandstone, 87% on 1.2-m brown sandstone, and 98% on 1.5-m gray sandstone. On the non-compacted sides of each treatment, survival was >99% across all species, whereas the compacted areas had 88% survival. Tree survival after three years had decreased to 67% on 1.5-m brown sandstone, 82% on 1.2-m brown sandstone, and 86% on 1.5-m gray sandstone. On the non-compacted areas, 78% survived while 79% survived across all compacted plots. Highest survival rate across all treatments was black locust at 100%, and lowest with Tulip poplar and White pine at 65% survival. Diameter and height were measured for trees and a volume was calculated by basal area (diameter squared) times height (D2H). Volume was greatest for Black locust with 792 cm3 and lowest for White pine at 36.1 cm3. Gray sandstone had the lowest volume across all species in all three plots with an average of 44.3 cm3 while 1.2-m brown sandstone had the greatest volume with 272 cm3. Percent height increase was greater on the brown sandstone treatment (86%) as compared to the gray sandstone treatment (17%). This trend continued with percent diameter increase which was 165% for brown sandstone and 62% for gray sandstone. Samples from all treatment plots showed the pH of the gray sandstone has continued to increase from an average of 7.9 after the first year to its highest level of 8.4 after the third year, while 1.5-m brown sandstone had an average pH of 5.5 and 1.2-m brown sandstone had an average pH of 4.5. Percent fines reached its highest proportion in the third year on both brown sandstone plots, while percent fines decreased on the gray sandstone plot between the first and second year (38% to 30%), but increased slightly to 33% by the third year.;In a fertility-leaching study, two leaching methods were used to compare brown and gray sandstone samples. These samples were repeatedly leached with Morgan's extract to examine concentrations of Mg, Ca, P, and K through four leaching events. Two sieve sizes were also used to separate the sands from the clay and silt size particles. Comparison of extraction methods showed significant differences in Ca, K, and P. There were no significant differences for any element between substrates (brown and gray sandstone) or sieve size.;Key Words: strip mine reforestation, compaction, gray unweathered sandstone, survival, volume.