Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Brown to head PRP board

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 06 - October 3, 1996

Gregory Brown, dean of the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources at Virginia Tech, has been named chair of the Powell River Project board of directors by President Paul Torgersen, effective at the next meeting of the board, which will take place in November 1996.

Brown has been at Virginia Tech since 1992, coming from the University of Maine, where he was vice president for research and public service since 1987. He has taught and conducted research for three decades in forest biology and environmental stress, resulting in more than 150 publications.

Brown has held offices in several national professional organizations, served on the boards of several industrial and environmental organizations, and received a number of honors, including being named to Gamma Sigma Delta, the professional agricultural honorary society. He was appointed to the Powell River Project Board in 1995.

Brown's undergraduate degree is in forestry from Iowa State; his master's is from Yale and his doctorate in tree physiology is from Duke University.

The Powell River Project is a cooperative program of Virginia Tech, industry, and other educational institutions. It sponsors research and education programs to benefit southwest Virginia's coal-producing counties. The project was established in 1980. Funding is provided by industry, Virginia Tech, and the state. Faculty members from throughout the university participate in Powell River Project programs.

Current Powell River Project activities include:

* Mine land reforestation: Virginia Tech forester Jim Burger is developing mine-reforestation methods to improve post-mining timber productivity, reduce reclamation costs, and assure regulatory compliance. His research results are being employed by coal companies in Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

* Coal-combustion byproduct utilization: Lee Daniels, of the crop and soil environmental sciences (CSES) department at Virginia Tech, is conducting research on use of ash produced by coal-burning power stations as soil amendment to improve revegetation of acid soils and to prevent acid mine drainage.

* Coal reserve studies: Chris Haycocks, of the mining and minerals engineering department at Tech, has initiated a project to quantify economically mineable coal reserves in the Virginia coalfield region.

* Economically viable re-mining to reclaim abandoned mines: Carl Zipper, CSES researcher, is working with the coal industry, the Nature Conservancy, and mine regulatory agencies to achieve increased reclamation of areas mined prior to the 1977 federal reclamation law.

* Economic development: Harold Wisdom, of Virginia Tech's forestry department, is determining reasons for apparent underdevelopment of forest products processing industry in the coalfield region, despite the region's status as a major hardwood timber supplier. Bob Smith, of the wood science and forest products department, will quantify wood "waste" byproducts produced in the coalfield in terms of its potential as a resource to attract industry.

* Residential waste disposal: Ray Reneau, CSES, is developing on-site wastewater-disposal technologies which can be used economically and safely on reclaimed mine areas.

* Water supplies: John Randolph, urban and regional planning faculty member at Virginia Tech, is concluding a year-long study of household water-supply issues affecting the coalfield region; Randolph is providing information generated by his studies to local government leaders and a legislative subcommittee seeking to deal with regional water-supply issues.

* Education: Some 1,500 students from local schools visited the project's education center to learn about coal mining and the environment during the past year, hosted by Cooperative Extension Agent Jon Rockett. Kathy Sevebeck, of the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources, is working with local teachers to provide curriculum materials.