The Wetlands

The Wetlands at UVa-Wise

The WetlandsThe Wetlands at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise is an effort to expand traditional views of land reclamation and Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) remediation practices through engaging and educating the public. The Wetlands models an alternative approach to reclaiming land through integrating the arts, history, and environmental design into the aquatic sciences. Through this project, the UVa-Wise campus and community groups have created an environment where students can learn about water monitoring, species identification, local ecology, land reclamation, and our region’s heritage. The Wetlands were constructed as passive AMD treatment for a small headwater stream that originates on the UVa-Wise campus and makes its way into the Clinch River system, which is one of the continent’s most biodiverse watersheds. 

Both faculty and students take advantage of having a unique wetlands habitat located near physical classrooms and laboratories in the Leonard W. Sandridge Science Center. Classes within the Department of Natural Sciences use The Wetlands for research for both majors and non-majors; however, students from other departments have also spent time there learning about local environmental issues and drawing inspiration from the site’s natural beauty. Campus student groups host clean-ups and invasive species removal projects at the Wetlands, and local schools also have a field-trip destination close to home near downtown Wise. Recent work has expanded the Wetlands to include several acres of reforested minelands, including several potentially blight-resistant American Chestnuts, that were planted by students, faculty and local volunteers in 2012-2013 through a partnership with the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative.

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