British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Reclamation of a limestone quarry to a natural plant community in the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta Cohen-Fernández, A.C.; Naeth, M.A


Reclamation of limestone quarries around the world is challenged by an extremely limiting environment, including steep slopes, scarce topsoil and high calcium carbonate substrates with low nutrients and water holding capacity. These issues were addressed at a limestone quarry in the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta. Reintroduction of key components, such as vegetation and ameliorated soil were expected to speed recovery of ecosystem function. Season of seeding and soil amendment with manure mix, wood shavings and erosion control blankets were evaluated over two growing seasons to determine their effect on soil properties and native grass establishment. Season (fall, spring) of soil amending and seeding did not significantly affect revegetation or soil properties. Site characteristics such as slope, aspect, initial soil nutrients and surrounding plant communities influenced early plant community development and overall effects of soil treatments. Erosion control blankets resulted in highest seeded plant cover and lowest nonseeded plant cover despite not significantly changing soil chemical properties. Manure mix increased plant establishment, soil nutrients, microbial biomass and viable fungi and bacteria. Reclamation is postulated to be best with erosion control blankets and organic soil amendments like manure mix. Results from this work can be extrapolated to other limestone quarries or similar disturbances.

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