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WVU land reclamation specialist’s new book explores future of Appalachia’s coal-mined landscapes

WVU Land Reclamation Specialist Jeff Skousen poses with new book.

After more than 30 years of experience in the mining reclamation field, Jeff Skousen, land reclamation specialist for West Virginia University Extension and professor of soil science in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, decided it was time to develop his own book about land reclamation in Appalachia.

In 2018, Skousen teamed up with Carl Zipper, a friend and professor of crop and soil environmental sciences at Virginia Tech. Together, the two mining reclamation experts began crafting “Appalachia's Coal-Mined Landscapes: Resources and Communities in a New Energy Era,” which was just recently published.

Throughout its 13 chapters, the book provides a comprehensive overview of coal mining’s legacy in Appalachia. It seeks to take a closer look at the resources of the Appalachian coalfields as they are today, drawing upon peer-reviewed science and regional data.

Containing contributions from authors across Appalachia, the book addresses topics relevant to the region’s history and future, its communities and people, and the natural resources found among the area’s coal-mined landscapes.

Skousen believes that this book fills a gap in the market, providing research-backed information during a pivotal time of transition in Appalachia.

“Now that I am toward the end of my career, I wanted to publish a book that would summarize our scientific knowledge about Appalachia’s coal mining history and provide recommendations for the future,” Skousen said. “Our goal was to explore the effects coal mining has had on the region and provide science-based observations, without pointing fingers or placing blame. Coal was the economic driver of Appalachia for 200 years, and we sought to remain balanced when looking at how it has shaped the region today.”

Skousen, who joined the WVU Extension and Davis College faculty in 1986, has had more than 350 publications throughout his career, and he believes this book provides him with another avenue to teach and share his expertise.

“My position at WVU required me to keep up with the latest findings and advancements in the industry that were relevant to West Virginia and Appalachia,” Skousen said. “This book allows me to bring those resources together and share that knowledge with others. That’s part of our land-grant mission – to deliver research-based information to our audiences.”

The book will be valuable to natural resource managers and scientists within Appalachia and in other world regions experiencing widespread mining, researchers with interest in the region, and economic and community planners concerned with Appalachia’s future.

If you’re interested in acquiring a copy of “Appalachia’s Coal-Mined Landscapes: Resources and Communities in a New Energy Era,” visit the publisher’s website here.

For more information about WVU Extension, visit or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 



CONTACT: Hannah Booth
Communications Specialist
WVU Extension Service