Abstract

The alterations caused to the landscape while mining operations extract necessary materials are unavoidable but not completely permanent changes. Through dedication to the communities they border, mining companies have progressed the science of reclamation and are beginning to restore once wild places to more natural looking environments. In the early days of reclamation, aggressive agronomic vegetative species were used to establish vegetation cover to prevent erosion and act as the framework for eventual succession to a more natural pre-disturbed state. In practice on some sites, these agronomic species are becoming monocultures which are utilized by small mammals and ungulates but are not being displaced by planted native grasses to fully reclaim an area to its natural form. The use of prescribed burning to bring disturbance to a landscape and provide space for native grasses has had some positive results but more might be done to help these grasses become established more permanently. Herbicide works to reduce competition for nutrients and water uptake but without removing the dead material the leftover litter layer would still prevent small native grasses from obtaining light. I intend to look at the possibility of using simulated cattle grazing as a means of added disturbance to provide space for seeded native species to grow and eventually lead to early successional change to re-establish a pre-disturbed natural state on a dry tailing storage facility.

Department

Natural Resource Science

Faculty Advisor

Wendy Gardner

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Effects of Simulated Grazing on Fire-Treated Mine Tailings for Restoration

The alterations caused to the landscape while mining operations extract necessary materials are unavoidable but not completely permanent changes. Through dedication to the communities they border, mining companies have progressed the science of reclamation and are beginning to restore once wild places to more natural looking environments. In the early days of reclamation, aggressive agronomic vegetative species were used to establish vegetation cover to prevent erosion and act as the framework for eventual succession to a more natural pre-disturbed state. In practice on some sites, these agronomic species are becoming monocultures which are utilized by small mammals and ungulates but are not being displaced by planted native grasses to fully reclaim an area to its natural form. The use of prescribed burning to bring disturbance to a landscape and provide space for native grasses has had some positive results but more might be done to help these grasses become established more permanently. Herbicide works to reduce competition for nutrients and water uptake but without removing the dead material the leftover litter layer would still prevent small native grasses from obtaining light. I intend to look at the possibility of using simulated cattle grazing as a means of added disturbance to provide space for seeded native species to grow and eventually lead to early successional change to re-establish a pre-disturbed natural state on a dry tailing storage facility.

 

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