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Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative

Image that visually describes ARRI as worded above.

The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) is a coalition of groups, including citizens, the coal industry, and government dedicated to restoring forests on coal mined lands in the Eastern United States.

ARRI is a cooperative effort between OSMRE, state agencies in Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, industry partners, environmental organizations, academia, and landowners.

ARRI advocates using a technique known as the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) to plant trees on coal mined lands. Highly productive forests can be created on reclaimed mine lands under existing laws and regulations by using the Forestry Reclamation Approach.

ARRI works on three categories on mine lands; Active Mining Operations, AML projects (Abandoned Mine Lands), and Legacy Sites (previously mined and reclaimed sites where reforestation opportunities exist). 

The goal of ARRI is to:

  • Plant more high-value native trees on coal mine lands in Appalachia
  • Increase the survival rates and growth rates of planted trees
  • Expedite the establishment of forest habitat through natural succession

Why is ARRI important?

  • Trees are a renewable resource and a good investment. High-quality timber can offer substantial revenue for landowners and job opportunities for local residents. 
  • Trees are environmentally important. They minimize soil erosion, remove carbon dioxide from the air, provide wildlife habitat and diverse plant species, and help to conserve water resources. 
  • Reforestation restores our forests which are important recreational areas for hunting, hiking, mountain biking, camping, bird watching, backpacking, and ATV riding.

ARRI seeks to change the existing Cultural, Technical, and Regulatory barriers surrounding the forestry reclamation of coal mined lands.

  • Cultural: change the perception that tree planting is more expensive and riskier than conventional reclamation, provide education on the impacts of compaction, and change the perception of what good forestry reclamation should look like
  • Technical: eliminate excessive surface compaction, ground cover competition, and inappropriate growth medium; plant high value native trees
  • Regulatory: change the perception that regulations impede effective reforestation techniques and interfere with bond release

ARRI FRA Planting Sites within Appalachian Regions 1 and 2

This interactive map is a work in progress and is being updated as ARRI partners provide data. If any omissions are noted, or if corrections or additional information is needed, please contact  Please note: on active mining operations the coal industry plants the trees and shrubs, on AML projects the state AML programs plant the trees and shrubs, and on legacy sites, ARRI fiduciary partners plant the trees and shrubs.

Map image showing ARRI's planting sites in Appalachian Regions 1 and 2 using the Forestry Reclamation Approach

Upcoming Tree Planting Events

Are you interested in attending an ARRI tree planting event this spring? Events will be taking place across the Appalachian Region.

View the 2024 Volunteer Tree Planting Schedule


Volunteers planting trees at the Flight 93 national Memorial in Pennsylvania
Volunteers planting trees at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania

ARRI is “looking forward,” working diligently to educate and train the active mining industry and regulatory personnel about the Forest Reclamation Approach (FRA) and the ways to reclaim surface coal mines to mitigation past and future disturbances to forests.

ARRI is also “looking backward” at the estimated 1 million acres of non-forested, bond released mined lands that could be available for reforestation in the Eastern US. The reforestation guidelines developed by ARRI Scientists are being applied by ARRI to selected mined sites for restoring mined land to native forests.  Starting in 2009, ARRI has partnered with state and federal agencies, watershed groups, coal operators, conservation groups, environmental organizations, faith-based groups, and numerous universities, colleges, and high schools to coordinate volunteer tree planting projects/events throughout Appalachia. 

These events involve ARRI partner organizations, volunteer and professional tree planters, and result in the planting of trees on previously reclaimed mine lands where reforestation opportunities exist.  ARRI’s role in these endeavors is to facilitate communication, provide technical assistance, and to match funding sources with suitable mined land and volunteer groups.  ARRI foresters coordinate site selection and evaluation, herbicide treatments, ripping activities, species selection, tree planting, and follow-up surveys. ARRI's main fiduciary on legacy sites is Green Forest Works. 

This post-reclamation reforestation effort has the additional benefit of outreach and awareness that is being created for proper mine land reforestation with the public, industry, and regulatory authorities.  Reforestation efforts, including ripping and tree planting, with several mining companies on their previously reclaimed mine lands have led them to embrace the FRA on their active mining operations. Many state and federal regulators involved in the volunteer tree planting projects have expressed positive attitudes for the forestry post-mining land use and employing the FRA on the ‘front-end’ of the reclamation process instead of as an ‘after the fact’ process.

After a few years of piecing together tree planting projects with donated trees, in-kind services, volunteer tree planters, and very limited funding, the ARRI tree planting events have evolved into large scale projects funded by grants, cost share programs, utility companies seeking carbon credits and corporate donations. Most of this funding is used for site preparation, tree seedings, and planting.

Learn more about reforestation here: Reforestation Guidelines for Surface Mined Lands in the Eastern United States 460-144.

Green Forest Works, an ARRI legacy partner

Please check out Green Forest Work's website

Image depicting the 5 steps of the forestry reclamation approach.ARRI Advocates Using the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) to Reclaim Coal Mined Lands

The 5 Steps of the FRA:

  1. Create a suitable rooting medium for good tree growth that is no less than 4 feet deep and comprised of topsoil, weathered sandstone, and/or the best available material
  2. Loosely grade the topsoil or topsoil substitutes established in step one to create a non-compacted growth medium
  3. Use ground covers that are compatible with growing trees
  4. Plant two types of trees – 1) early succession species for wildlife and soil stability, and 2) commercially valuable crop trees
  5. Use proper tree planting techniques

The FRA technique described above is based on the forestry research and scientific studies of several leading universities.  Current Federal and State regulations support the FRA technique for establishing forests as a post-mining land use. ARRI has determined that when FRA is implemented, bond releases are not delayed. 

 State Nurseries

Kentucky Department of Natural Resources
Division of Forestry
627 Comanche Trail
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: (502) 564-4496
Fax: (502) 564-6553

Maryland Department of Natural Resources 
3424 Gallagher Road
Preston, MD 21655
Telephone: (800) 873-3763

Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry (Penn Nursery) 
137 Penn Nursery Rd
Spring Mills, PA 16875
Telephone: (814) 364-5150

Tennessee Division of Forestry 
East TN Nursery
9063 Hwy 411
PO Box 59, Delano, TN  37325
Telephone: (877) 868-7337

 Virginia Department of Forestry
Augusta Forestry Center
90 Forestry Lane
Crimora, VA 24431
Telephone: (540) 363-7000


Private Nurseries

ArborGen Inc.
2011 Broadbank Court
Ridgeville, SC 29472
Phone: (843) 851-4129
Fax: (843) 832-2164

Servicing PA, MD, VA, and WV
RPM Ecosystems LLC
Contact: Leslie Carrere
2150 Dryden Road
P.O. Box 6
Dryden, New York 13053-9998
Phone: (607) 844-9590
Fax: (607) 844-9591
Toll Free: 1 (888) 776-9590

Williams Forestry & Associates
Contact: Rick Williams
P.O. Box 1543
377 Sunset Dr Se
Calhoun, GA 30701
Phone: (706) 629-0353
Cell: (404) 229-0598

Itasca Greenhouse, Inc.
Contact: William Sayward
26385 Blackwater Road
PO Box 273
Cohasset, MN 55721
Phone: (218) 328-6261
Fax: (218) 328-9843
Toll Free: 1 (800) 538-8733

If you would like your nursery added to this list, please contact


Red spruce seedlings growing in a greenhouse
Red Spruce Seedlings ready to be planted on a high elevation mine site.

For More Information

ARRI was established in early 2004 with the formation of the Core Team. The mission of the team includes:

  • To develop a Statement of Mutual Intent in order to clarify the goals of the initiative and to make a pledge between the ARRI partners to promote the re-establishment of forestland on mine sites in Appalachia.
  • To serve as a contact for outreach, trainings, event planning, monthly meetings to discuss progress reports and new strategies.

Core Team Members

Scott Eggerud - OSMRE Team Leader
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
State and Federal Programs Branch
P. O. Box 703
Ona, WV 25545
(304) 633-5263

State Team Leader

OSMRE Regional Contacts

Appalachian Region

Scott Eggerud (see above)

Cliff Drouet - ARRI Forester
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 
Lexington, KY
Work phone: 303-549-7249
Work email:

Jim Taitt 
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
3 Parkway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
Work phone: 412-937-2106
Work email: 

Brian Dailey, Ecologist
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement
Technical Support Division
Water, Geological & Geospatial Branch
Three Parkway Center Drive South,
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
(412) 510-6923


Mid-Continent Region 

Frank McCoy
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
501 Belle Street, Suite 216
Alton, IL  62002
Work phone: 618-463-6463 ext. 5126
Work email:




State and OSMRE Contacts


Mike Jones
Alabama Surface Mining Commission
P.O. Box 2390, Jasper, AL 35502-2390
(205) 221-4130

Jennifer Nicholson
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
135 Gemini Circle Suite 215
Homewood AL 35209
(205) 290-7288 ext.1400


Joel S. Whisman
Division of Abandoned Mine Lands
300 Sower Blvd.
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 782-6804 (Office)
(606) 594-4549 (Cell)

Owen Michels
KY Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement

Janice Zimmer, Environmental Scientist V
Division of Mine Permits
Department for Natural Resources
300 Sower Blvd
Frankfort, KY 40601Office: 502-782-6812

James D. Sherrod, Environmental Control Supervisor
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
300 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort, KY 40601
Office: 502-782-6766

Courtney Mastin
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Lexington Field Office
2675 Regency Road
Lexington, Kentucky 40503
(859) 260-3912


Matt Rowley 
Environmental Compliance Specialist III
Maryland Department of Environment
Bureau of Mines Division
Frostburg, Maryland 21532
(301) 689-1444

Shayla Lewis
Natural Resources Planner I
Abandoned Mine Land Division, Maryland Department of the Environment 
160 South Water Street Frostburg, Maryland 21532 

Stefanie Miller
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
3 Parkway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
(412) 952-0850


Marissa Lautzenheiser
Environmental Specialist
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
2207 Reiser AVE SE
New Philadelphia, OH 44663
Phone: 614-867-3552


Mike Stayrook
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation
286 Industrial Park Road
Ebensburg, PA 15931
Phone: (814) 472-1888

Ethan Cree
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation 

Michael Myers
Reclamation Specialist
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
3 Parkway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15520
717-919-3709 (cell)

Christian Canary
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Pittsburgh Field Office
3 Parkway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
Phone: (814) 341-2926


William DeBord
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Knoxville Field Office
710 Locust Street, 2nd floor
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
(865) 545-4103 ext. 185

Whitney Nash, Surface Mining Reclamation Specialist
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Knoxville Field Office
710 Locust Street, 2nd floor
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
office: 865 545-4103 ext 150, cell: 865 310-1307


Lawrence Tankersley, Co-Team Leader
Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy
Division of Mined Land Reclamation
P.O. Drawer 900
Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219
(276) 523-8204

Cody Zirkle
Reclamation Specialist
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
1947 Neeley Road, Suite 220
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219
276-523-0000 ext. 20


Kevin Quick
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Mining and Reclamation
601 57th Street SE, Room 2136
Charleston, West Virginia 25304
(304) 926-0499 ext. 1508

Greg Mitchell
Reclamation Specialist
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
1027 Virginia Street East,
Charleston, WV 25301
304 347-7158