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Keywords:

  • grass competition;
  • reclamation;
  • species richness;
  • waste recycling

Abstract

Land application of municipal biosolids on coal mine spoils can benefit vegetation establishment in mine reclamation. However, the application of biosolids leads to domination by early-successional species, such as grasses, and low establishment of woody and volunteer species, thus reducing potential for forestry as a postmining land use. In this experiment, tree seedlings were planted in strips (0.6-, 1-, and 4-m wide) that were not seeded with grasses, and the effects of unseeded strip width on seedling growth and species richness were assessed. Planted seedling mortality was high; therefore, the effect of unseeded strip width on seedling growth could not be determined. However, it was found that natural plant invasion and species richness were highest in the 4-m unseeded strips. The practice of leaving 4-m-wide unseeded strips in mine reclamation with biosolids in the eastern United States, along with the improvement of tree seedling planting practices and planting stock, would help promote a more species-rich plant community that could be utilized for forestry or a variety of other postmining land uses.