The Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Reforestation Program works to restore forests on legacy coal mines across the Commonwealth. Legacy mine lands, unlike abandoned mine lands, have been reclaimed to federal requirements and bond released. However, these lands remain unproductive and unnatural sites, negatively impacting forest health, jeopardizing wildlife habitats, and polluting our waterways. This work to date has focused on publicly owned properties, such as state game lands.

A new initiative is now helping private land owners of formerly mined lands access the benefits of restoring their property to healthy, productive forests using innovative planting and financing approaches. While the reforestation techniques are proven and successful, we are bringing innovative financing to the program as a way to defray the high costs of reforestation, and enable more landowners to see their properties restored. We are seeking parcels ideally 50+ contiguous acres (minimum 15-20+ contiguous acres) to enroll in our program for the 2022-2023 season. By bringing together experts from multiple industries, this program is designed to streamline the process for landowners by providing technical assistance and navigating complicated programs and paperwork.

There are a wide range of benefits for private landowners resulting from this work:

  • Opportunity for sustainable timber harvesting or other forest-based business opportunities
  • Increased property value by restoring degraded lands
  • Opportunity for increased revenue from hunting leases
  • Restored viewshed on property
  • Decreased water runoff and erosion

PEC advances the goals of the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), a joint initiative between the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) and six coal-impacted states using the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) to restore healthy, productive forests on former mine lands. The private landowner initiative is co-led by the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities and Quantified Ventures.