Friday, August 21, 2015

USDA restoring forests in Appalachia

The USDA is bringing forests back to Appalachia. Across the 13-state Appalachian region, large swaths of forest have disappeared due to mining, replaced only by shrubby brush after reclamation. The USDA estimates that 1 million acres of deciduous forest has disappeared. The problem is that much of the soil which formerly hosted the forest has been buried under reclaimed lands. Not only do trees not grow well in the new topsoil, but invasive species are able to take root in it and overrun the land. Now, the USDA is working with the Appalachian Regional Commission, Green Forest Works and the Appalachian Regional Restoration Initiative to reforest the region. The groups have worked to reclaim the soil and plant 1 million trees across 2,000 acres. Another 1,000 acres has been reforested with native American chestnut trees that have been bred to resist fungal blight that nearly wiped out the tree a century ago.