“Room and pillar” mining leaves large cavities underground that can collect water and create acid mine drainage. Environmental studies determined that daylighting was a good option for the southern portion of the property. As part of an environmental remediation plan, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden worked with a contractor to “daylight” coal on parts of the property, harvest the resource, and appropriately close out these areas so that they do not cause environmental issues such as acid mine drainage and subsidence in the future. The site was then planted with native forest trees.
The reforestation of the site began in 2015 and was completed in 2020. The Garden followed the science-based guidelines listed in the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative.
Before revegetation could begin, the area was graded to create furrows for planting. A mix of native tree species was selected for the project to achieve a good forest composition. Trees that could thrive in the dry conditions were included, as well as those that provide benefits for wildlife. Nut bearing trees, such as Quercus sp. (Oak), Jugulans nigra (Black Walnut), and Carya ovata (Shagbark Hickory), were planted, as they provide excellent food and shelter to wildlife once they mature. The American Chestnut Foundation donated 100 Castanea dentata (American Chestnut) bare root seedlings to the effort; these seedlings were bred to resist the Chestnut blight, a fungus that ravaged the American Chestnut in the early 1900’s. Other trees Acer species (Maples), Cercis canadensis (Redbud), Sambucus canadensis (Elderberry) round out the mix. Care was used to make sure plants were distributed unevenly, and other trees like Acer species were mixed into the landscape to mimic how they would be seen in nature.
A total of 16,000 seedlings have been planted by volunteers and staff.