Dr. Carl Zipper

School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Carl E. Zipper is a professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist for crop and soil environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1986, Zipper has worked to apply and extend scientific concepts to improve environmental restoration and management in coal-mining areas. Much of his outreach is through the Powell River Project (PRP), for which he serves as director.

Dr. Zipper’s current research focus is restoration of mined lands, management of water resources influenced by coal mining in Appalachia, and development of nutrient criteria for the Commonwealth of Virginia. His instructional activities include a junior-level course, Fundamentals of Environmental Science; and a graduate course, Environmental Science Concepts for Professionals.


Other current activities address a variety of environmental issues with an emphasis on the interface of environmental science with government policy. He advises the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality as a member of the agency’s Academic Advisory Committee; and serves as a member of the US Office of Surface Mining’s Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative Science Team, and the Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative Executive and Science Teams.

Long term, Dr. Zipper plans to explore how “lessons learned” from coal mine reclamation might apply to ecosystem restoration science more generally.



Recent Relevant Publications

Boehme E.A., C.E. Zipper, S.H. Schoenholtz, D.J. Soucek, A.J. Timpano. 2016. Temporal dynamics of benthic macroinvertebrate communities and their response to elevated specific conductance in Appalachian coalfield headwater streams. Ecological Indicators 64:171–180.

Clark E.V., C.E. Zipper. 2016. Vegetation influences near-surface hydrological characteristics on a surface coal mine in eastern USA. Catena 139: 241–249.

Zipper C.E., P.F. Donovan, J.W. Jones, J. Li, J.E. Price, R.E. Stewart. 2016. Spatial and temporal relationships among watershed mining, water quality, and freshwater mussel status in an eastern USA river. Science of the Total Environment 541: 603–615.

Evans D.M., C.E. Zipper, S.H. Schoenholtz. 2015. Hydrologic effects of surface coal mining in Appalachia (U.S.). Journal of the American Water Resources Association 51: 1436–1452.

Ciparis S., A. Phipps, D.J. Soucek, C.E. Zipper, J.W. Jones. 2015. Major Ions in Virginia’s Clinch and Powell Rivers: Assessing Ecotoxicological Influence on Freshwater Mussels. Environmental Pollution 207: 280-287.

Li J., C.E. Zipper, P.F. Donovan, R.H. Wynne, A.J. Oliphant. 2015. Reconstructing disturbance history for an intensively mined region by time-series analysis of Landsat imagery. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 187: 557 (1-17).

Orndorff Z.W., W.L. Daniels, C.E. Zipper, M. Eick. 2015. A column evaluation of Appalachian coal mine spoils’ temporal leaching behavior. Environmental Pollution 204: 39-47.

Timpano A.J., S.H. Schoenholtz, D.J. Soucek, C. E. Zipper. 2015. Salinity as a limiting factor for biological condition in mining-influenced Central Appalachian headwater streams. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 51: 240-250.

Evans D.M., C.E. Zipper, P.F. Donovan, W.L. Daniels. 2014. Long-term trends of specific conductance in waters discharged by coal-mine valley fills in central Appalachia, USA. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 50: 1449-1460.

Fields-Johnson C., J.A. Burger, D.M. Evans, C.E. Zipper. 2014. Ripping improves tree survival and growth on unused reclaimed mined lands. Environmental Management 53: 1059-1065.

Price J.E., C.E. Zipper, J.W. Jones, C.T. Franck. 2014. Water and sediment quality in the Clinch River, Virginia and Tennessee, USA, over nearly five decades. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 50: 837–858.

Zipper C.E., B. Beaty, G.C. Johnson, J.W. Jones, J.L. Krstolic, B..K. Ostby, W.J. Wolfe, P.F. Donovan. 2014. Freshwater mussel population status and habitat quality in the Clinch River, Virginia and Tennessee, USA: A featured collection. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 50: 807–819.

Evans D.M., C.E Zipper, J.A. Burger, B. Strahm, A. Villamagna. 2013 Reforestation practice for enhancement of ecosystem services on a compacted surface mine: Path toward ecosystem recovery. Ecological Engineering 51:16-23.

Zipper C.E., J.A. Burger, C.D. Barton and J.G. Skousen. 2013. Rebuilding soils on mined land for native forests in Appalachia, USA. Soil Science Society of American Journal 77: 337-349.

Fields-Johnson C., J. Burger, D. Evans, C.Zipper. 2012. American chestnut establishment techniques on reclaimed Appalachian surface mined lands. Ecological Restoration 30: 99-101.

Fields-Johnson C.W., C.E. Zipper, J.A. Burger, D.M. Evans. 2012. Forest restoration on steep slopes after coal surface mining in Appalachian USA: Soil grading and seeding effects. Forest Ecology and Management 270: 126-134.

Sen S., C.E. Zipper, R. Wynne, P. Donovan. 2012. Identifying revegetated mines as disturbance/recovery trajectories using an interannual landsat chronosequence. Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing 78: 233-235.

Northington R.M., E.F. Benfield, S.H. Schoenholtz, A.J. Timpano, J.R. Webster, C.E. Zipper. 2011. An assessment of structural attributes and ecosystem function in restored Virginia coalfield streams. Hydrobiologia 671:51-63.