Restoring the American Chestnut to
Kentucky’s Lost Mountain

Arbor Day Event at
International Coal Group’s
Tip Top Mine in Perry County

9 May 2008

Download "The American Chestnut" coloring book

View the news stories posted in the links below and see our story and photos on this page below.,

In his book, Lost Mountain, Erik Reece chronicles the year he spent in 2003 witnessing the surface mining of a single mountain and opines, “The economic and environmental consequences are devastating on an unprecedented scale”. 

Click on image
to enlarge:


Students from W.B. Muncy and Robinson Elementary Schools found Lost Mountain quite different than what had been portrayed in Reece’s book.  Now that mining is complete and reclamation is in progress, they participated in an Arbor Day event by planting American chestnut and oak seedlings and learned about future plans for the site by International Coal Group (ICG) and others.         


Kentucky’s Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo, M.D., whose grandfather emigrated from Italy to Kentucky in 1910 to work in U.S. Steel’s Benham Mine, discussed his vision for adventure tourism in the state. According to Dr. Mongiardo, a surgeon makes a scar in his or her work, just as a miner does.  In both cases, success is judged by the end product after the scar heals.  Tourists can travel roads and trails on reclaimed mine land by hiking, biking, or on ATVs or horses to hunt, fish, observe the largest elk herds east of the Mississippi River, and experience all manners of outdoor activities.

Dr. Tammy Horn from Eastern Kentucky University, affectionately known as the Queen Bee, discussed her partnership with ICG to bring more creativity to mine reclamation by reforesting areas with bee-friendly trees and encourage a beekeeping infrastructure among people in Hazard.  In addition to honey production, she is exploring the potential for value-added cottage industries such as candles, lotions, beeswax, and soaps.  

David Ledford from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation learned that every student in attendance had seen an elk.  He then informed them that they are the first generation in Kentucky in 150 years that can make such a claim and how reclaimed surface mine land was essential to the elk restoration effort in Kentucky

Elk on reclaimed
mine land

Scott Freidhof, President of the Kentucky Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation summarized the state’s progress in developing orchards of blight-resistant American chestnut hybrids.  He challenged attendees to find native American chestnuts around Hazard that can be incorporated into the backcross program.  The planting of pure American chestnut seedlings on mine land prepared by the Forestry Reclamation Approach at the Tip Top Mine will be judged to aid in the planting of blight resistant hybrids in the future.  Students marked the seedlings they planted with a metal tag so they can observe how they grow on subsequent visits.

Chestnut seedling
and student tag

C. Stephen Allred from the Department of Interior, Hank List from the Kentucky EPPC, Joe Blackburn from the Office of Surface Mining, and Larry Arnett and Paul Rothman from the Kentucky DNR presented ICG with an Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) Award for its reforestation efforts at the Tip Top Mine.

Click on images below to view more
photos of the day:


ICG Hazard, LLC received the
Excellence in Reforestation Award
from ARRI for Exemplary
Performance Using the
Forestry Reclamation Approach

OSM staff provided
white pine
seedlings for students

KDNR's Larry Arnett
served as MC

Miss Tyra Short
sang the
National Anthem

ICG's W. Scott Perkins
leads opening

C. Stephen Allred

Dr. Dan Mongiardo, M.D.

Hank List

Appalachian Fuels
ARRI Award


The reclaimed Tip Top Mine can be
Dr. Dan's poster for adventure tourism

Dr. Tammy Horn

ICG's Scott Perkins
helping a student
plant her seedling and
mark it with her tag

ICG's Joan Meece
with a chestnut

ICG's Don Gibson
organized the event

Each student
received an ARRI
cap and shirt

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