(1) Success of revegetation must be determined by comparison with unmined reference areas or by comparison with technical standards. Reference areas and standards must be representative of vegetation and related site characteristics occurring on lands exhibiting good ecological integrity. The department must approve the reference areas, technical standards, and methods of comparison.
(2) Reference areas are parcels of land chosen for comparison to revegetated areas. A reference area is not required for vegetation parameters with approved technical standards. Reference areas must be in a condition that does not invalidate or preclude comparison to revegetated areas and the operator must:
(a) have legal right to control the management of all approved reference areas; and
(b) manage reference areas in a manner that is comparable to the management of the revegatated areas and in accordance with the approved postmining land use.
(3) Technical standards may be derived from:
(a) historical data generated for a sufficient time period to encompass the range in climatic variations typical of the premine or other appropriate area; or
(b) data generated from revegetated areas that are compared to historical data representing the range of climatic conditions comparable to those conditions existing at the time revegetated areas are sampled; or
(c) U.S. department of agriculture, U.S. department of the interior, or other publications or sources relevant to the area and land use of interest and approved by the department.