KWRRI Research Reports


This is the first research report of a three-year project on wetland identification and management criteria in the western Kentucky coal field. The region is approximately 12,000 square kilometers and, due to its slight relief, contains many wetlands, some contiguous with surface coal mining operations. The overall objectives of the research project are 1) to identify, classify, and map wetlands in the western Kentucky coal field; 2) to evaluate the major biotic and abiotic factors that affect those wetlands; and 3) to develop strategies for the proper management of those wetlands.

The first report of this three-year project has involved the following tasks related to wetlands in the coal fields of western Kentucky:

  1. establishment of three intensive study sites in major wetlands for identification and assessment of management impacts,
  2. sampling tripe in May, July, and September to the intensive study sites, to measure water quality and ecological structure,
  3. development of a classification specifically for wetlands in western Kentucky and an application of the classification to the three intensive study sites, and
  4. development of conceptual models of the region, watersheds, and specific ecosystems, and preliminary simulations of a wetland model.

Our specific sites in western Kentucky are Cypress Creek Wetlands in Muhlenberg County, which are affected by mine drainage and channelization; Clear Creek Swamp in Hopkins County, which is affected by mine drainage and higher water levels; and Henderson Sloughs in Henderson County, which are affected by oil wells and clearing for agriculture. Preliminary analysis of field surveys demonstrates that several activities, particularly coal mining and oil 'extraction, may affect the health of wetlands in western Kentucky. Drainage, logging, channelization, and impoundments have also caused significant alterations.

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Funding Information

The work upon which this report is based was supported in part by funds provided by the Office of Water Research and Technology, United States Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., as authorized by the Water Research and Development Act of 1978. Public Law 95-467.