British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Assessment of the soil resource in the reclamation of disturbed mountainous areas Rowell, Michael J.


In land reclamation, the soil scientist is presented with many new problems and challenges. The wide array of chemical and physical tests already developed for engineering, agriculture and forestry may have a direct application to land reclamation problems. However, the study of many soil characteristics may require the modification of existing methods or the development of new procedures to cover the field from mine spoils to tailings. The way we use the results must depend on clearly defined objectives for each phase of reclamation to the final land use. The soil characteristics and qualities that we define as optimum or minimum for one purpose may differ widely from another land use alternative. In addition, the initial objectives of reducing erosion and maintaining water quality may conflict with soil requirements for the final proposed use of the land. Where we attempt to return disturbed agricultural and commercial forestry areas to a state at least equal in productivity, considerable forethought will be required. If we are unable to attain a stable state of soil quality and productivity, we must consider the soil to have been degraded and reclamation to have failed.

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