A computer decision aid for reclaiming eastern abandoned surface mines

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

A computer model was developed to provide a decision aid for the reclamation of eastern abandoned surface mined lands. Edaphic, topographic, climatological, and economic factors provide the inputs to the model. By utilizing the present costs and benefits from representative reclamation practices, objective and efficient decisions can be made.

The model is comprised of interacting subprograms, which operate as a system of independent decision aids. The subprograms presently in the system are HIWALL(land manipulation), PLSPEC (plant species suitability evaluator), ERODES(erosion predictor, and cost/benefit analyzer), TERARE(computes results of terrace building), LIME(rates of lime application required to enhance site quality), FERT(nutrient requirements for a site), and WINBRK(a windbreak effectiveness subprogram).

Evaluation of the model was accomplished by using simulation and sensitivity analyses. The operation of the HIWALL and ERODES subprogram, and the sensitivity analyses performed on each, provided insights to the factors which influence the effectiveness of decisions, and land configurations.

The cost/benefit ratio can be utilized in the decision making process. Present costs can be manipulated to meet future needs, or to predict future rates of development.