The impact of surface mining for coal on the nature and extent of freshwater wetlands was assessed on 73,200 ha in western Pennsylvania. The influence of mining on wetlands was not uniform across physiographic regions, varying with regional differences in hydrology and soils. Overall, mined lands supported 18% more palustrine wetlands than unmined lands, primarily because of a 270% gain in permanent, open-water wetlands on mined lands in the glaciated region. Open-water wetlands declined on mined lands in unglaciated regions owing to unfavorable hydrologic conditions. The number and size of emergent wetlands declined as a result of mining. Mined lands supported 81% fewer riverine wetlands than unmined lands. This was caused primarily by avoidance of lands containing streams, and secondarily by a 10% reduction in replacement of riverine wetlands during reclamation. Land managers need to develop land use policies that maximize the ecological and social benefits that can be derived from developing diverse wetland communities on mined lands.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change