The Homer Soil and Water Conservation District is very proud to partner with the Burea of Land Management in an ongoing program of monitoring at mining reclamation sites. The standards by which BLM monitorrs reclamation sites have been a difficult issue at times in the past, and they have put consierable effort into newly defined standardized protocols.
Using newly developed monitoring protocols for mine sites, teams look at vegetation coverage and species diversity as well as sand, silt, and clay content in the “topsoil” and characterizing soil pits. Data is collected on reclaimed sites and reference sites to compare reclaimed status to undisturbed areas. We greatly appreciate the cooperation with BLM and look forward to providing technical expertise for years to come.
Another project in collaboration with BLM but also with NRCS Soil Survey, Homer Soil and Water employees are working in various locations on the details needed for soil surveys. This means describing the soil profile, the current plant communities and potential for community-changing events (noting things like susceptibility to fire and dating the evidence of old fires). This means getting friendly with flowers, puzzling over lesser grasses, measuring tree girths and rings, and working on making an estimation of their coverage at each site accurate, thereby painting a realistic picture of the scene in numbers and scientific names, written descriptions, and copious photos. While they’re out, they also compare the sites we visit, noting their successional stages, compositions, and landscape positions, so that the ecologists and soil scientists can group the sites into understandable units of communities and mark their extents on a map. These maps are viatl for long-range conservation and use planning.