Comparative inventory of vegetation and soils surrounding Teck Coal Ltd.'s Coal Mountain Operations Keefer, Michael E.; Moody, Randall John
Coal mine reclamation has historically consisted primarily of planting agronomic species on forage areas and/or to meet biomass accrual standards; in modern day reclamation a shift is occurring towards more biodiversity driven standards. This project represents a positive step in an ecosystem based approach to developing reclamation prescriptions that follow natural succession trajectories for native plant community establishment. A comparative study was implemented to examine soil and plant community characteristics on mine spoil sites and on natural reference sites to determine what native plant species and communities may be suited to establishment on ecologically comparable mine spoil sites as a reclamation treatment. A total of 22 field plots were established: 3 on spoil and 19 on reference sites. A total of 164 plant species were inventoried including 147 native, 11 introduced, and 6 agronomic species which are likely an artefact of past reclamation efforts. Sixty-seven species were identified as having high reclamation potential and are expected to be readily propagated. The soil data suggests that the mine spoils are nutritionally similar to the soils in the reference ecosystems. Recommended treatments include establishing early successional native plant communities that are developed to follow site specific successional pathways as observed near Coal Mountain Operations in reference areas.
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