Press Release

FROSTBURG, MD (April 11, 2007) – Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Shari T. Wilson today joined approximately 100 volunteers from local high schools, youth camps, watershed associations and government agencies to plant nearly 5,000 trees on 10 acres. The event, held near Frostburg, Md., promotes reforestation of coal-mined land. The Frostburg tree-planting site was surface-mined in the late 1980’s and subsequently reclaimed to pasture.

The event also celebrated Arbor Day by reforesting mined land using commercially valuable hardwood species such as oak, maple, cherry, walnut and ash to restore the type of Appalachian forest that often existed prior to the site being mined.

“Through a cost share program with the Bureau of Mines, Maryland coal mine operators have planted nearly 7.5 million trees and shrubs on 10,500 acres of reclaimed surface coal mines,” said Secretary Wilson. “The trees are a long-term investment in the natural resources of the state that will provide the economic and environmental benefits of a healthy and diverse forest.”

Secretary Wilson also announced the 2007 Excellence in Reforestation Awards, recognizing the environmental contributions of two local mining firms.

Tri-Star Mining Company Owner George Beener was recognized for his company’s cooperation and work to promote the reforestation of mined land. As part of the Georges Creek Community for almost 40 years, Tri-Star Mining has maintained an exemplary environmental record and continues to be a good neighbor in the area. Participating in the Maryland Bureau of Mines tree-planting program since its enactment 22 years ago, Tri-Star has planted tens of thousands of trees on hundreds of acres in the Georges Creek Watershed.

The second award was presented to Vindex Energy. New to the Maryland coal fields community, Vindex is the first mining company in the state to employ the Forestry Reclamation Approach on their surface mines. This new method eliminates practices that hinder reforestation on mined land and promotes the use of commercially valuable native trees, such as oak, maple, cherry, and ash. Their practices will set the standard for reforestation on mined lands in Maryland and throughout the Appalachian coalfields.

“MDE recognizes reforestation as an important method to restore reclaimed coal mining land,” said Secretary Wilson. “It will further enhance the efforts of the Maryland Bureau of Mines and the local coal mining industry to provide environmentally beneficial land for future generations.”

Arbor Day is celebrated nationally, and officially on April 4 in Maryland, to encourage tree planting and promote reforestation. Trees provide food, wood, paper and oxygen to breathe. They stabilize soil, reduce erosion, mitigate flooding, improve air quality, water quality and provide habitat for wildlife.

Editor's Note

Digital photos from the tree planting event and awards ceremony are available upon request.