Mountaintop mining has opened up the mountains and given both humans and animals a place to live and flourish.
All surface-mined land today is reclaimed equal to or better than it was prior to mining and has provided land for airports, golf courses, shopping malls, ball fields, vineyards, subdivisions, hospitals and more. These areas of level land are helping to create a sustainable economy in a part of the state that desperately needs it.
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Reclaimed coal lands have provided new opportunities in the Appalachia mountains of eastern Kentucky including hundreds of miles of trails for ATVs, horseback riding, hiking, biking and more wildlife and hunting opportunities as well as other recreational activities.
Reclaimed Coal Lands have become a haven for the elk and other wildlife.
In the fall of 2003, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources began the process of developing and implementing a landscape habitat conservation plan for the state's 4.1 million acre 16-county elk restoration area. They partnered with biologists, private landowners and the coal companies in the reclamation of coal sites into open grassland and prairies, replacing fescue and Serecea with native grasses, forbs, trees and shrubs that are better food sources.
This conservation effort and others they have developed as part of the plan has allowed for many species that have lost their homes in other parts of the state to thrive in eastern Kentucky. A few of the species you might see include: deer, elk, black bear, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, gray squirrel, raccoon, rabbit and bobwhite quail. Also bats, raptors, numerous small and mid-sized mammals, imperiled aquatic species, coyote, red fox, gray fox, bobcat, beaver, river otter, muskrat, weasel and mink.
Some of the bird species one might find include: grasshopper sparrow, bob-o-link, indigo bunting, yellow-billed cuckoo, golden-winged warbler, hooded warbler, American redstart, rose-breasted grosbeak, Henslow's sparrow, northern harrier, palm, prairie & Blackburnian warblers and blue-winged teal.