British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

CP Rail Rogers Pass Project Reclamation Program Polster, D. F. (David Franklin), 1952- 1985

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Proceedings of the 9th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1985. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation CP RAIL ROGERS PASS PROJECT RECLAMATION PROGRAM by David F. Polster ABSTRACT Work is currently underway on construction of a new 17.3 km surface grade and 16.5 km of new tunnels for westbound rail traffic on the CP Rail mainline between Golden and Revelstoke, B.C. Most of the work is being conducted in Glacier National Park. Detailed plans and contract specifications for the reclamation of approximately 150 ha of surface disturbance were developed with the objectives of controlling erosion, providing a permanent vegetation cover and reintegrating the disturbed lands with the surrounding terrain to reduce the visual impact of the project. The plans were based on results from two years of reclamation research and were submitted to and approved by Parks Canada and the Federal Environmental Assessment Panel established for the project. Stringent reclamation standards have been established for the project. Major reclamation work was initiated with construction in 1934 with an extensive program of soil salvage and use, seeding and woody shrub planting. INTRODUCTION The Rogers Pass Project is the largest single project undertaken by CP Rail since the completion of the transcontinental rail line one hundred years ago. The project is the final stage of a program of grade reduction which has been underway in Western Canada for the last fifteen years. The result of completion of the project will be the reduction of the westbound grade from 2.2 percent to one percent. In addition the project will provide 34 km of double track. The effect of these measures will be to significantly increase the capacity of the rail line to transport goods to ports on the Pacific coast. The Rogers Pass Project is composed of two major components; the surface grade and the two tunnels and associated ventilation facilities. The surface grade is being built using standard construction techniques. In an effort to reduce the total amount of terrain disturbance, retaining walls have been used extensively in the design. Large cuts and fills will be required however, to carry the grade along the steep slope of the Beaver Valley. Two tunnels will be constructed. The Mount Macdonald tunnel will be 14.7 km long and will carry the new line 290 m below the Rogers Pass. The Shawnassy tunnel will be 1.8 km long and will be used to avoid a section of particularly steep terrain and to cross under the Trans Canada Highway. This paper describes the measures which are being taken and are planned to reclaim the disturbances created during construction of the new rail 27 Proceedings of the 9th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1985. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation line. Reclamation research which was conducted prior to the start of construction and which is being continued is described. Results of reclamation work conducted to date are presented. As the project will not be completed until late in 1988, and because the reclamation work is an ongoing process, this paper presents only the initial work on the project. RECLAMATION PLANNING Reclamation Objectives Reclamation objectives were formulated early in the reclamation planning process to provide a framework upon which specific plans and procedures could be based. The following objectives were set for the reclamation of the terrain disturbances associated with grade construction: • Revegetation of exposed erodible materials to minimize erosion and subsequent water quality degradation. • Amelioration of the visual impact of cuts and fills through the use of vegetation. • Establishment of a self-sustaining vegetation cover which is compatible with the naturally occurring vegetation in the area. • The use of native species whicli occur in the area, where this does not compromise the other objectives. Means of achieving these objectives were set out in the detailed reclamation plans and contract specifications which were prepared prior to the start of construction. Reclamation Trials Reclamation trials were initiated in 1982 to provide a preliminary indication of reclamation techniques which could be used to meet the objectives. The trials were established as operational trials to provide realistic reclamation situations so that the results would be appropriate to the actual reclamation work to be conducted. The cuts made in 1977 at Mountain Creek bridge were selected as the location for the initial trials. These slopes were cut to provide material for the construction of approach fills for the bridge. The eastern cut is composed of glaciofluvial gravels, sands, and silts. This cut faces south and receives the full solar radiation on summer days. The slope is 1.5:1 (H:V) or about 34 degrees. The combination of soil and site factors results in very dry conditions for plant growth. This site was selected to represent the worst possible conditions for plant growth in the area. The establishment of vegetation on this slope would provide an indication of the feasibility of reclaiming disturbances associated with the new grade. The trials consisted of testing individual grass and legume species and a species mix as well as planting selected woody plants. Table 1 presents the species tested during the spring trials. 28 Proceedings of the 9th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1985. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation TABLE 1 1982 SPECIES TRIALS 29  Proceedings of the 9th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1985. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation The second series of trials consisted of testing a mix of species in a fall seeding trial. Locations along the access road which had been constructed along the surface grade were selected to represent the range of conditions which would be encountered in reclaiming the grade. Table 1 shows the species mix used in these tests. Results from these trials indicated that fall seeding was effective in establishing a grass cover but that in most cases the legumes failed to establish. Legume establishment was good on sites where moisture was plentiful and where germination and seedling establishment occurred prior to hard frosts. In the early spring of 1983, a landslide from the newly constructed access road presented a site where reclamation was required. This site was used to test the effectiveness of dry broadcast seeding on slopes of 40 degrees or more. Seed was applied at a rate of 125 kg/ha and fertilizer (13-16-10) was applied at a rate of 300 kg/ha. Seeding was conducted in May, and by August of the same year a vegetation cover of about 80 percent had been established. Completion of preliminary work at the East and West Portals of the Mount Macdonald tunnel in August 1983 allowed the establishment of operational trials of seeding and shrub planting. A seeding rate of 75 kg/ha and a fertilizer rate (19-19-19) of 225 kg/ha was used. Approximately 5,000 container grown alder (Alnus viridis var. sinuata), red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) and thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) were planted. By late September that year the seeded species had established. Shrub survival over the winter was about 95 percent. Mortality could be attributed to rodents. A program of bank stabilization trials was initiated along a particularly steep section of the newly constructed access road in the fall of 1983 to test the effectiveness of measures which might be employed in exceptional circumstances along the new grade. The trials were composed of two phases. The initial phase of the trials consisted of installing polypropylene netting on the slopes to prevent the loss of material through dry ravelling. Ravelling of the slopes had caused undercutting of the mat of vegetation and roots at the top of the slopes which eventually slumped onto the access road, plugging ditches and causing failures of the drainage system for the road. Approximately 3,500 square meters of "Tensar Geogrid SS 1" was installed in selected locations along the road. The slopes where the netting was installed were in excess of 60 degrees. The second phase of the bank stabilization trials consisted of applying seed and fertilizer with a soil binding agent to establish vegetation on the slopes. The fertilizer (13-16-10) and part of the seed was applied first to avoid mixing the fertilizer and the soil binding agent which would have resulted in the polymerization of the soil binder. The remainder of the seed and the soil binder was then applied, shows the seed mix used. Seeding was conducted at a rate of 100 kg/ha. The soil binder ("Deci 162") used is a polyurea polyalkylene oxide which forms a polymer as a result of mixing with water. The resulting polymer 30 Proceedings of the 9th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1985. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  is insoluble in water and serves to aggregate the soil particles, thus reducing the rate of fine particle erosion. In essence this material acts as a glue to bind the soil together. The polymer breaks down after about a year to form urea, carbon dioxide, water and small chain hydrocarbons. The results of the bank stabilization trials were mixed. In general the netting was effective in preventing the ravelling of surface materials. However, large scale failures in many of the locations where the netting had been installed resulted in a loss of the netting. The soil binding spray was effective in holding the soil surface and preventing the loss of seed from the slopes. A cover of vegetation was established on near vertical slopes. The program was effective at reducing the amount of surface soil erosion but was not effective when faced with deep seated geotechnical failures. Future use of the soil binding spray is anticipated. Reclamation Plans and Contract Specifications Results from the trials were used to formulate detailed reclamation plans and contract specifications for the project. The use of suitable growth material was seen as the key to effective reclamation along the new grade. For this reason, a detailed survey of the soils available along the grade was conducted. This information was then used to compile a strategy for salvage and use of the soil material. The trials also indicated which species of grasses, legume and woody shrubs would be effective. Table 3 provides the two species mixes to be used for reclamation on the project. This information was used to design species mixes and planting prescriptions for use on each section of the grade. The grade was divided into sections based on the substrate conditions, the surrounding vegetation and the expected moisture regime once the grade was complete which formed the basis for the detailed reclamation plans. The detailed reclamation plans formed the basis for the contract 31 Proceedings of the 9th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1985. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation TABLE 3 GRASS AND LEGUME SPECIES MIXES FOR USE ON THE ROGERS PASS PROJECT   specifications which were prepared. The reclamation work was split into that work which would be carried out by the construction contractors and the more specialized work which was to be carried out by a reclamation contractor. The earth works including the salvage and use of the growth material was included in the construction contracts while the revegetation work for the whole job was developed as a separate contract. Supply of materials to be used in the revegetation program was split so that the woody species would be supplied by nurseries while the revegetation contractor would be responsible for supply of seed, fertilizer and other materials. Detailed specifications for the supply of over 600,000 woody species were developed to ensure that high quality stock would be available when required. Scheduling of the reclamation work was developed to immediately follow the construction to minimize the risk of erosion and to ameliorate the negative visual impacts of the project. Times for effective revegetation were established on the basis of prevailing climatic conditions. The 32 Proceedings of the 9th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Kamloops, BC, 1985. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation scheduling had to allow for delays in construction as well as being sensitive to completion of areas earlier than expected. OPERATIONAL RECLAMATION Camp Landscaping The first major task of the operational reclamation program was the landscaping of the construction camps which were established for the work force. Three camps were built to house a total of about 1,200 workers. The Flat Creek and Beaver camps are located in Glacier National Park. The landscaping at these camps had to result in a camp setting which was in keeping with the national park environment. The Rogers camp is located about one kilometer east of the park. Landscaping at this camp was conducted to control mud and dust and make the camp pleasing for residents. Landscaping at Flat Creek and Beaver entailed the establishment of about 11,000 square meters of sod and the transplanting of 63 large trees. At Rogers, a program of hydroseeding was conducted to establish a vegetation cover. The landscaping program has resulted in the development of camps which are pleasant places to live. Reclamation of Construction Areas Reclamation of construction areas conducted in 1984 consisted of growth material application where required, site preparation, establishment of a grass and legume cover and planting of shrubs. A total of approximately 25 hectares was seeded to grasses and legumes. Approximately 20,900 shrubs were planted. Much of the reclamation work was conducted in the fall of 1984 and by the early spring of 1985, growth on the areas treated was in evidence. Reclamation on the project is an ongoing process. Reclamation work scheduled for the spring of 1985 includes the planting of approximately 60,000 trees and shrubs. Seeding will be conducted on an additional 10 to 15 hectares. Special bioengineering techniques are being studied as alternatives to conventional retaining walls in selected locations. Should these techniques prove successful, they will reduce the cost of slope stabilization by several orders of magnitude. CP Rail is committed to a high standard of reclamation for the Rogers Pass Project. Results from the reclamation work conducted to date indicate that these high standards will be achieved and that the new rail line will be little more than a shadow across the landscape in the near future. 33


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