Strip Mine Reforestation Part 3

With my car still a bit iffy from getting stuck in the mud, I got a ride with Brad to the restoration site. On the way, I asked him to explain how the project got started:

Sorry about the terrible sound quality, but you're gonna have to suffer through it if you want to hear some great insights.

After we got to the site and Brad went on to his meeting, the day proceeded the way it should have before - sunny, beautiful, easy work. I brought my camera and was able to take some good shots. I found sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains, a deer stand from which one could see almost the whole site, and a really cool blue/purple stemmed plant.

I also found that from one area to the next, there were trees that were doing much better than on the rest of the site, or much worse. I wondered if that was due to something that could be measured in the soil, like porosity, pH, carbon content, or nutrients. Of course its still too early to tell if the trees that are doing better are going to continue to do so.

I wondered out loud to Brad if planting slightly larger tree seedlings would have given them a head start, and I learned that the longer you let a tree grow in a nursery, the less adaptable it is when you put it in a new situation. Because this is an especially terrible situation for the trees, with a hard, rocky soil and a major weed problem, they needed to be young so they could grow to call it home.

For now, most of the tres continue to struggle to overtake the grasses around them, and herbicides are sprayed regularly around each tree to keep the grasses from subsuming the little trees. The good thing about the project is that they have about 60 years of lease to figure this stuff out.

But enough science, lets see some pictures!

Diagonally from bottom left: Me, restoration planting, native forest, pine plantation.

One of the larger planted areas, taken from a deer stand I found.

I couldn't get a good shot of the deerstand while I was on it, but I think the shadow captures the idea. The stand was really wobbly and I'm afraid of hights, so I'm really proud of this picture.

Sometimes, small rocks and gravel randomly give way to giant boulders. Try running a deep-rip tiller trough this cave, and your project is pretty much over.

As promised, a really sweet plant with a blue stem. If anyone knows what this is, I'd be interested to know.

Walking away from the site, I came upon this vista, which I think represents both what we need to preserve and what we have to restore.


1 comment:

bz said...

Hi Andon,

Enjoying your blog. I just finished reading Lost Mountain by Erik Reece. I think you probably know it. Learning more makes me even more appreciative of the work you've chosen.

Uncle Brad