History

Our group’s mined land reclamation program was initiated by Dr. Dan Amos in the mid-1970’s and focused on coal mine spoil weathering and mine soil properties through 1979.  In 1979, Dan Amos was one of the founding Virginia Tech researchers who established the Powell River Project mined land reclamation research program in Wise County and surrounding areas of SW Virginia.  In 1980, W. Lee Daniels was hired to work for Dr. Amos as a Research Associate and tasked with mine soil mapping and pedogenesis studies. 

Over the early 1980's, Dan and Lee worked closely with Dr. Jim Burger to relate mine spoil and mine soil properties to forestry potentials and to fund, build and establish the Controlled Overburden Placement Experiment, which remains today as the longest continously monitored experiment of its kind in the world.
Dan Amos left for a sabbatical leave in Nepal in 1982 and recommended that W. Lee Daniels run his teaching and mined land research programs in his absence. 
The Controlled Overburden Placement Experiment during construction (1981) and after seeding (1982).
Jay Bell and Carl Zipper worked with Lee to run various aspects of the continuing coal mine reclamation research programs throughout the mid-1980's. Dan never returned to his former position, and Lee was converted to a tenure track position in 1987 and has remained at Virginia Tech since.

Our group is also known internally as the ‘Marginal Soils Research Group’ due to the fact that we never get to work on the productive native soils that our CSES colleagues get to study. Over the years, our program has expanded to include wetland creation and restoration sites, metal smelter wastes and tailings, mineral sands mines, highway rights-of-way, construction sites, dredge spoil impoundments, manufactured soils, acid sulfate soils and other human impacts. Unfortunately, we see no shortage of future challenges to work on!