Friday, February 19, 2010

Kentucky Provides for Bees

The Kentucky legislature is in the process of codifying into law the environmental practices that the coal companies have started using as they reclaim the land used in surface mining. The mining procedure is called mountain top removal. Just as the name implies, the entire tops of mountains are being removed to extract coal. The procedure is considered safer and more economical than digging mines into the earth. One serious problem with mountain top removal is rebuilding the terrain in a suitable manner using the rubble from the mining effort. The shape of the land and water courses must be rebuilt. The rocky soil must be compacted enough to safely hold in place. One of the problems with the compaction efforts has been the fact that trees and understory plants do not grow well in the hard, compacted soils.

When the case was presented to Kentucky’s House Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, the representatives voted unanimously in favor of the bill to continue the efforts to restore pollinator habitat and forage on reclaimed surface mining land. The mining companies will plant trees and understory foliage plants that provide habitat and food for honey bees, bumble bees, and other native pollinators. Coal Country Beeworks is placing honey bee hives on reclaimed mining sites and training individuals to build a beekeeping industry in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. They have plans for developing a queen bee raising program with the goal of producing queen bees that are suitable for the local area. A part of the restoration effort is the planting of trees and understory plants that are beneficial to pollinators. These plants will include sourwood trees, famous for honey, and the American chestnut tree. This native tree once comprised one third of the forest before it was decimated by blight. Today’s picture, following an environmental note, is a young raccoon that Rita and I found living in one of our wood duck nesting boxes. Congratulations, Kentucky friends.

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