Section 880-X-3A-.07 - Topsoil Handling and Revegetation: Underground Coal Mine Operations (Alabama Administrative Code)

§ 880-X-3A-.07. Topsoil Handling and Revegetation: Underground Coal Mine Operations

The following regulations are adopted in lieu of 30 CFR 717.20 of the Federal Interim Program.

(a) Topsoil shall be removed as a separate operation from areas to be disturbed by surface operations, such as roads and areas upon which support facilities are to be sited. Selected overburden materials may be used instead of, or as a substitute for topsoil where the resulting soil medium is determined by the State Regulatory Authority to be equal to or more suitable for revegetation. Topsoil shall be segregated, stockpiled, and protected from wind and water erosion, or contaminants. Disturbed areas no longer required for the conduct of mining operations shall be regraded, topsoil distributed, and revegetated.

(b) The permittee shall establish on all land that has been disturbed by mining operations a diverse, effective, and permanent vegetative cover capable of self-regeneration and plant succession, and adequate to control soil erosion. Introduced species may be substituted for native species if approved by the State Regulatory Authority. Introduced species shall meet applicable State and Federal seed or introduced species statutes, and may not include poisonous or potentially toxic species.

(c) Timing of revegetation. Seeding and planting of disturbed areas shall be conducted during the first normal period for favorable planting conditions after final preparation. The normal period for favorable planting shall be that planting time generally accepted locally for the type of plant materials selected to meet specific site conditions and climate. Any disturbed areas, except water areas and surface areas of roads that are approved under 30 CFR 715.13 as part of the postmining land use, which have been graded shall be seeded with a temporary cover of small grains, grasses, or legumes to control erosion until adequate permanent cover is established. When rills or gullies, that would preclude the successful establishment of vegetation or the achievement of the postmining land use, form in regraded topsoil and overburden materials as specified in 30 CFR 715.14 additional regrading or other stabilization practices will be required before seeding and planting.

(d) Mulching. Mulch shall be used on all regraded and topsoiled areas to control erosion, to promote germination of seeds, and to increase the moisture retention of the soil. Mulch shall be anchored to the soil surface where appropriate, to ensure effective protection of the soil and vegetation. Mulch means vegetation residues or other suitable materials that aid in soil stabilization and soil moisture conservation, thus providing micro-climatic conditions suitable for germination and growth, and do not interfere with the postmining use of the land. Annual grains such as oats, rye and wheat may be used instead of mulch when it is shown to the satisfaction of the State Regulatory Authority that the substituted grains will provide adequate stability and that they will later be replaced by species approved for the postmining use.

(e) Methods of revegetation.

1. The permittee shall use technical publications or the results of laboratory and field tests approved by the State Regulatory Authority to determine the varieties, species, seeding rates, and soil amendment practices essential for establishment and self-regeneration of vegetation. The State Regulatory Authority shall approve species selection and planting plans.

2. Where hayland, pasture, or range is to be the postmining land use, the species of grasses, legumes, browse, trees, or forbs for seeding or planting and their pattern of distribution shall be selected by the permittee to provide a diverse, effective, and permanent vegetative cover with the seasonal variety, succession, distribution, and regenerative capabilities native to the area. Livestock grazing will not be allowed on reclaimed land until the seedlings are established and can sustain managed grazing. The State Regulatory Authority, in consultation with the permittee and the landowner or in concurrence with the governmental land-managing agency having jurisdiction over the surface, shall determine when the revegetated area is ready for livestock grazing.

3. Where forest is to be the postmining land use, the permittee shall plant trees adapted for local site conditions and climate. Trees shall be planted in combination with a herbaceous cover of grain, grasses, legumes, forbs, or woody plants to provide a diverse, effective, and permanent vegetation cover with the seasonal variety, succession, and regeneration capabilities native to the area.

4. Where wildlife habitat is to be included in the postmining land use, the permittee shall consult with appropriate State and Federal wildlife and land management agencies and shall select those species that will fulfill the needs of wildlife, including food, water, cover, and space. Plant groupings and water resources shall be spaced and distributed to fulfill the requirements of wildlife.

(f) Standards for measuring success of revegetation.

1. Success of vegetation shall be measured on the basis of "adequate vegetative cover" which shall be defined as a vegetative cover capable of self-regeneration and plant succession, and sufficient to control soil erosion. In establishing adequate vegetative cover, the permittee shall recommend as part of its reclamation plan, and the satisfactory reclamation plan shall prescribe, in the following conditions:

(i) A planting of the affected area upon completion of contouring and/or soil preparation at the earliest possible time within the next growing season appropriate to the vegetative plant species used.

(ii) The permanent planting of any of the plant species in the following table. Revegetation shall not be restricted to these species; where an operator desires to use other species, he shall so provide in his proposed reclamation plan or proposed amendment thereto. The suggested species table shall be:(iii) Permanent vegetation shall be deemed adequate vegetative cover if the vegetation has survived two growing seasons, and if the following standards are observed:

Trees Grasses

Longleaf pine Tall fescue

(Pinus palustris) (Festuca Arundinacea)

Loblolly pine Common bermuda

(Pinus taeda) (Cynodon dactylon)

Virginia pine Bahia

(Pinus Virginiana) (Paspalum notatum)

(a) Sycamore Weeping love grass

(Platanus occidentalis) (Eragrostis curvula)

European black alder Redtop

(Alnus glutinosa) (Agrostis alba)

Sawtooth oak (a) Johnson grass

(Qurecus acutissima) (Sorghum halepense)

Slash pine Deer tongue

(Pinus elliottii) (Panicum clandestinum)

(a) Dallisgrass

(Paspalum dilatatum)

Shrubs Cereals and Annuals

Autumn olive Abrizzi rye

(Elaeagnus umbellata) (Secale cerale)

Bristly locust Brown top

(Robinia fertilis) (Panicum ramosum)

(a) Wheat

(Triticum aestivum)

(a) Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)

(a) Sorghum-Sundangrass

Vulgare X S. sudanese

Sundangrass (Sorghum Sudanese)


Bicolor lespedeza

(Lespedeza bicolor)

Crimson clover

(Trifolium incarnatum)


(Coronilla varia)


(Vicia sativa)


(Lespedeza cuneata)


(Lespedeza striate)

(a) Sweet clover

(Melilotus alba and Melilotus officinalis)

(a) Alfalfa

(Medicago sativa)

* All legumes must be treated with the proper inoculm.

(a) Suitable for alkaline soils

(I) Legumes and perennial grass must cover at least 80% of the affected soil surface. Areas of less than 80% cover shall not exceed one-fourth acre in size nor total more than 20% of the area planted.

(II) Tree and shrub species shall be at such density to provide a minimum of 435 established seedlings per acres of mine soil. A minimum of 200 seedlings per acre will be allowed on one-half (1/2) acre within each five (5) acres of planting. Additional seeding or planting must be performed to make up any deficiency.

(III) Where this provision relative to vegetation would be inconsistent with the proposed use, the reclamation plan shall be reviewed and acted upon in accordance with the approved use. In any event, the reclamation plan must provide for expeditious stabilization of the area.

2. Exceptions may be authorized by the State Regulatory Authority for --

(i) Previously mined areas that were not reclaimed to the standards required by this Chapter prior to the effective date of these regulations. The ground cover of living plants for such areas shall not be less than required to control erosion, and in no case less than that existing before redisturbance;

(ii) Areas to be developed immediately for industrial or residential use. The ground cover of living plants shall not be less than required to control erosion. As used in this paragraph, immediately means less than 2 years after regrading has been completed for the area to be used; and

(iii) Areas to be used for agricultural cropland purposes. Success in revegetation of cropland shall be determined on the basis of crop production from the mined area compared to the reference area. Crop production from the mined area shall be equal to that of the approved reference area for a minimum of two growing seasons. Production shall not be considered equal if it is less than 90 percent of the production of the reference area for any significant portion of the mined area.

3. Species diversity, distribution, seasonal variety, and vigor shall be evaluated on the basis of the results which could reasonably be expected using the methods of revegetation approved under paragraph (e) of the rule.

(g) Seeding of stockpiled topsoil. Topsoil stockpiled in compliance with 30 CFR 715.16 must be seeded or planted with an effective cover of nonnoxious, quick growing annual and perennial plants during the first normal period for favorable planting conditions or protected by other approved measures as specified in 30 CFR 715.16.


Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, §§ 9-16-71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 80, 81, 82.

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