M.S., Agronomy, The Pennsylvania State University, 1985
B.S., Biology, Lehigh University, 1980


Mr. Buck is a Project Manager with Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc.'s life sciences group. His areas of expertise include: reclamation and revegetation of drastically disturbed land; wetland and terrestrial wildlife habitat design; wetland treatment system design and performance evaluation; evaluation and treatment of contaminated soils, agricultural soils, and wetland soils; studies of the relationship of soil chemistry to plant growth and to plant uptake of nutrients and trace/toxic elements; bioremediation; and composting of animal manure, sewage sludge, and municipal solid waste. Mr. Buck has taken a leadership position in the creation of soil-like materials from residual, mining, agricultural, and/or municipal wastes that reduce or eliminate the need for and cost of natural cover soils obtained off-site. He has conducted extensive research in the area of plant tolerance to exceptionally high boron and other soluble salts associated with some fly ashes. Mr. Buck's experience includes bioremediation of contaminated soils and water. Mr. Buck has presented expert witness testimony to the Pennsylvania legislature concerning proposed regulation of sewage sludge disposal/utilization on land, and the quality of soils contested in litigation. Mr. Buck has designed many waste site closure plans, including the development of parks at former hazardous waste sites and wildlife habitat on mining and residual-waste sites. Highlights of Mr. Buck's professional experience follow:

Reclamation and Revegetation of Drastically Disturbed Land

Designed successful direct (soil-less) revegetation plans for coal refuse, coal spoil, slag, and coal fly ash disposal sites using unique soil testing approaches and soil amendment regimes. Most projects were implemented full-scale on the basis of an effective field and laboratory screening, thus avoiding delays and costs associated with preliminary field trials. Examples follow.


Conducted field and laboratory studies leading to successful direct (soil-less) revegetation of about 100 acres of a barren slag disposal site. Used locally available sewage sludge and fly ash as major soil amendments to improve chemical and physical conditions of the slag for plant growth. Included extensive sampling to establish the physical and chemical variability of the site. Developed successful pilot-scale test plots prior to successful full-scale implementation.

Developed revegetation plans using fly ash/soil mixtures or fly ash alone in lieu of conventional soil cover at fly ash disposal sites in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Connecticut.

Demonstrated the feasibility of direct revegetation of high-pH, high-soluble-salts flue gas desulfurization sludge (FGD) in the laboratory and the field on a two-acre portion of an 800-acre FGD impoundment in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Obtained variances for direct revegetation of high pH, high-boron fly ash to control erosion at fly ash disposal sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Both projects were implemented successfully in 1994.

Studies and variance applications to drastically reduce cover soil thickness at nine fly ash impoundments in Pennsylvania totaling approximately 500 acres. Regulatory response to date has been encouraging.

Direct revegetation of "red dog" (burnt carbonaceous shale) at an abandoned mine site in Michigan.

Conducted field and laboratory studies and developed direct revegetation designs/specifications for three DNR/DOE abandoned coal soil/refuse sites in West Virginia.

Conducted field and laboratory studies and developed conventional and direct revegetation designs/specifications and cost estimates for each of two burning, abandoned coal refuse sites for Pennsylvania Department of Enviromental Resources (PADER). Included use of unique sampling procedures to account for spatial variability in immediate acidity and pyrite content. Included several corroborative lime requirement assay methods.


Designed and assisted in construction of replicated experimental wetlands for treatment of nitrogen and heavy metal contaminated water at the Palmerton, Pennsylvania Blue Mountain Superfund Site. Presented design to federal and state regulators. Designed monitoring QA/QC program for site consistent with EPA requirements.

Designed several "replacement" wetlands to mitigate loss of wetland habitat acreage from stream relocations associated with road construction near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Designed over 60 acres of replacement wetlands to compensate for impacts due to a dam expansion in Pennsylvania.

Designed tree/shrub hedgerows on various upland sites. Designed biotechnical substitutes for rip-rap to optimize wildlife food and cover availability.

Design of a replacement wetland habitat using unique geosynthetic liner system and a passive supplementary rainwater irrigation system based on water budget models.

Permitted and designed three replacement wetlands, totaling 10 acres, to compensate for development impacts in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Work included use of piezometers and hydrologic models to evaluate hydrology and meet hydrologic design goals.

Evaluated passive treatment efficiency of volunteer wetlands at an Ohio steel mill.

Soil Chemistry/Biology

Designed in-situ bioremediation systems for oil contaminated sites in Kentucky and Ohio. Designs included soil pore water monitoring to maintain nutrient and electron acceptor levels within acceptable limits.

Developed landfarming plan for petroleum contaminated soils in North Carolina.

Evaluated relationships between soil and fly ash chemistry and physical properties on plant growth and uptake of nutrients and trace/toxic elements at a West Virginia fly ash disposal site with exceptionally high boron solubility. Executed follow-up research at a sister site with more phytotoxic fly ash. Identified boron-tolerant species, minimum soil cover requirements, and presented results. Succeeded in obtaining a variance to reduce soil cover thickness from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER).

Conducted feasibility study to economically compost the pre-sorted cellulosic fraction of municipal solid waste with excess liquid animal manure using a proprietary Austrian process. Work was done under funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Developed work plan and QA/QC plan for remedial design feasibility study for 33-million-ton, heavy metal contaminated Cinder Bank CERCLA (Superfund) Site in Palmerton, Pennsylvania. Studies were designed to evaluate emissions from internal fires within the Cinder Bank, delineate fires within the Cinder Bank, and perform material testing and computer modeling to evaluate the hydrologic performance of unconventional and conventional capping systems designed to support vegetation and reduce infiltration and erosion.

Evaluated compost and fly ash as soil substitutes and as major soil amendments. Evaluated soil chemistry, plant uptake of nutrients and potentially toxic elements, plant performance, and changes in soil chemical/physical properties at a fly ash amended anthracite refuse site.

Evaluated the extent and agricultural impact of airborne fly ash contamination of tobacco crops. Conducted electron microscopy and surface analyses of fly ash, soil, and organic particles adhering to tobacco leaf surfaces and to particle collectors. Conducted analyses of fly ash, soils, and tobacco leaf tissue to trace contaminant levels.

Sampled and assayed urban garden soils for nutrient and heavy metal contamination levels in a Penn State Extension role for the Philadelphia Urban Garden Program.

Evaluated the effect of soil physical and chemical properties on success and failure of desirable/undesirable vegetation in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA. Included evaluation of saline/sodic soils.

Evaluated chemical and physical properties of soils of importance to plant growth and survival and species selection for Pittsburgh area Allegheny West Authority highway beautification projects.

Expert Testimony

Provided expert testimony and consultation to Pennsylvania Legislature's Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee regarding the disposal and beneficial use of sewage sludge on land reclamation sites, land dedicated to sludge disposal, and farmland. Prepared report which included technical comments on existing and proposed regulations and guidelines, suggestions for adjustments to regulations and guidelines, and cost estimates for compliance with each of several regulation scenarios. Discussed, debated, reported and related issues with legislators and other expert witnesses.

Provided sampling, analysis, and expert witness testimony as part of litigation concerning claims that the quality of soil provided under contract did not meet the expectations of the buyer.

Volunteer Experience

Designed and implemented a plan to directly (without-soil) vegetate a conspicuous 0.7-acre portion of the barren Nine Mile Run slag dump located adjacent to Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill Tunnel. The project included rappelling down steep slopes to plant bristly locust seedlings, amendment of less steep areas with mushroom compost and/or commercial fertilizers, planting day lilies, and sowing seeds of black locust trees, wildflowers, grasses, and birdsfoot trefoil. The project was completed in 1986, with support from other volunteers and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Past President and Vice President of Volunteers for Outdoor Allegheny (VOA), an organization dedicated to development, maintenance, and improvement of public-access natural areas in the Allegheny County region, including trails and parks. Projects included trail maintenance, roundup of over-populating Canada Geese for transfer to more appropriate habitat, and planting of over 1,200 native tree species in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park.

Co-Chair of Earth Day '90 Pittsburgh Region tree planting committee. Coordinated procurement of trees and shrubs, obtained funding, developed easy-to-use planting instructions, contacted allied organizations, and trained leaders for planting 18,000 seedlings in eight locations. Designed and distributed several thousand black locust tree seed packets to the public. All of the above was accomplished with a budget under $600.

Member of Allegheny West Authority Three Rivers Parkway Champions Beautification Action Committee. Responsible for encouraging quality development and beautification efforts in the corridor between the new Pittsburgh International Airport and the Fort Pitt Tunnels.


American Society of Agronomy
Soil Science Society of America
International Society of Soil Science
Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) - Board Member


Buck, J.K. and D.E. Baker. 1985. Equilibria Relationships of Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium in Montmorillonite, Illite, and Mixtures. In Abstracts of the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, Chicago, Illinois.

Buck, J. K. and R. J. Houston. 1987. Direct Revegetation of Four Coal Waste Sites in Pennsylvania - Four Approaches. In C.L. Carlson and J. H. Swisher (ed.), Innovative Approaches to Mined Land Reclamation. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, Illinois.

Baker, D.E. and J.K. Buck. 1988. Use of Computerized Expert Systems, Unique Soil Testing Methods, and Monitoring Data in Land Management Decisions. In Proceedings of the 1988 Mine Drainage and Reclamation Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Buck, J.K. and R.J. Houston. 1988. Direct (Soil-Less) Revegetation of Anthracite Refuse Using Coal Fly Ash as a Major Soil Amendment. In Proceedings of the 1988 Mine Drainage and Reclamation Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.