Funding for the tree planting event was
provided by Schnabel Engineering
and the CCWF

 

COPPER BASIN TREE PLANTING EVENT!!

Arbor Day Planting Event where students from Copper Basin High School made history by planting
blight-resistant American chestnut hybrids on mine land reclaimed by Copperhill Industries

Successful tree planting
in Polk County, TN
by the Forestry Reclamation Approach

17 April 2018

More than 30,000 hardwood trees (including American chestnuts)
are being planted this year on this site!

VIEW OVER 200 PICTURES HERE:   https://flic.kr/s/aHsmiYyq9a

 

So why is restoration of the American chestnut important in the Copper Basin?  As many as one in four trees in early Appalachian forests were American chestnuts.  Early explorer to the region, Hernando De Soto, noted in his 1542 journal, “Where there be mountains, there be chestnuts.”  

Civilization came to the Basin before the Civil War to support the mining of copper.  Welsh and Cornish miners brought the mining and smelting expertise, which attracted native Tennesseans seeking prosperity.  Thus, everything in the Basin today—schools, homes, churches, roads, and businesses—owes its existence to the copper mines. 

By 1861, trees were becoming scarce in the Basin. Wood was needed to fuel the smelters. The Polk County ores contained significant sulfur content. When roasted, the sulfur was released, forming sulfur dioxide, which later rained down as sulfuric acid.  After the trees had been cut, the gases from the open smelting destroyed the remaining vegetation.  Who could have foreseen that the largest man-made biological desert in the nation would emerge out of this economic fervor?


 

CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO READ ARTICLE

Although the mining and smelting operations destroyed the American chestnut in the Basin, by the 1940s, American chestnuts were being destroyed elsewhere by the blight that originated from the import of Chinese chestnuts to New York City in 1904.  Since the 1940s, reclamation efforts have been underway by many stakeholders to restore the Basin. The latest evolution has been the incorporation of the Forestry Reclamation Approach as has been successfully demonstrated in coal-mine reclamation.

Ginger Montgomery’s ecology class at Copper Basin High School made history today by planting 50 blight-resistant American chestnut hybrids at the former Mary Mine.  That’s a fitting tribute to one of the mines that gave communities in the Basin their existence.  Imagine the great-great grandchildren of these students visiting the site someday to view the breath-taking beauty of an American chestnut forest and saying, “My great-great grandparents planted these trees.”

Heavy rains the previous week threatened to postpone the event, but that’s the beauty of mine land reclaimed by the Forestry Reclamation Approach. Rainfall infiltrates into the loose, rocky ground to irrigate tree roots, such that on the day of the event, planting conditions were ideal, and so were weather conditions!

Previous Arbor Day events restored the American chestnut to reclaimed mine land in Anderson, Campbell, Cumberland, Claiborne, Morgan, and Sequatchie Counties, so now we have planted blight-resistant hybrids on reclaimed mine land in seven Tennessee counties.  

In addition to planting 50 blight-resistant American chestnuts, students planted pure American chestnut seedlings at their school, as well as bare-root-seedling American chestnuts at the Mary Mine.  Trees and tools for the planting event were provided by the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Schnabel Engineering, and the U.S. Office of Surface Mining.  The event was hosted by Copperhill Industries, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Glenn Springs Development, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Thanks to Lauren Bearden from The News Observer for joining us on our adventures at the school and mine site.  https://www.thenewsobserver.com/

VOLUNTEERS INCLUDED:

Scott Deal, PE, Glenn Springs Holdings, Inc.
Will DeBord, Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining
Buddy Haynes, Copperhill Industries
Josh Haynes, Copperhill Industries
Nathan Haynes, Copperhill Industries
Jennifer Innes, TN Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Resources
Amy Katcher, TN Department of Environment and Conservation
Logan Kennedy, TN Department of Environment and Conservation
Chris Miller, Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining
Carol Moore, Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Schnabel Engineering
Barry Thacker, Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and Schnabel Engineering
Dave Turner, TN Department of Environment and Conservation

TWENTY-NINE PHOTOS IN COLUMN DIRECTLY
BELOW ARE COURTESY OF
LAUREN BEARDEN

of The News Observer!
www.thenewsobserver.com

CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO READ ARTICLE

 

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