Natives for Reclamation of Oil & Gas Sites

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Development of the Marcellus and Utica Shale Plays in Pennsylvania and surrounding states has created a great opportunity for our region and our country.

Landowners have the ability to determine, to a large extent, how their lands are reclaimed after drilling or associated activity takes place on their land. Certain reclamation practices are mandated by government agencies, but others offer an opportunity for the landowner to ensure that diversity and habitat are improved, agricultural benefits are realized and ecological resources are protected.

  • Reclaiming sites and right-of-ways associated with oil & gas activity is an opportunity to minimize wildlife fragmentation by using native species.

    Native vegetation provides sustainable food and cover for all types of wildlife. Species diversity provides year-round habitat and encourages native pollinators.

  • Switchgrass and big bluestem can provide high-quality forage. These native, warm season grasses used in a system of rotational grazing allow for robust growth during the hot, summer months. University of Tennessee findings suggest the nutrient content of this forage can be as high as 16%-17% crude protein if harvested correctly.

    Ground switchgrass straw is experiencing increased use as a forage extender in livestock feed. It works to increase bulk and dilute protein in operations with sources of high protein feed.

  • Oil & gas activity frequently impacts sensitive areas, such as wetlands, streams and the watersheds into which they feed. Access roads and areas susceptible to erosion and sediment runoff must also be reclaimed in a manner that mitigates their negative effects.

    The reclamation of many of these areas is closely monitored and guided by government agencies. Landowners should still be aware of instances such as these on their property, especially where their voice in the process can ensure that reclamation supports land stewardship conservation practices through the use of native species.

  • Sustainable landscapes range from small, private projects designed by concerned homeowners, to large scale SITES, LID or LEED certified projects involving multiple municipal and commercial concerns. At their heart, sustainable landscapes share certain features, some of which are the reduction of storm water run-off swales, rain gardens and green roofs and walls; reduction of water use through water-wise garden designs; bio-filtering of wastes through constructed wetlands; creation of wildlife habitat in urban areas and energy-efficient landscape design via shade trees and creation of wind breaks.

    Using natives on these sites only makes sense, as they require less frequent watering, need little or no fertilizers or pest control, reduce levels of carbon and other chemicals and provide a needed habitat for pollinators, upland wildlife and songbirds.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this review of practices is the result of more than 50 years of experience in seed production. Ernst Conservation Seeds has been supplying seeds and consulting in the reseeding of tens of thousands of acres of roadsides, surface mined lands, conservation, and restoration sites in eastern North America, as well as growing and supplying seed and consulting in the planting of hundreds of thousands of acres of CRP/CREP-related areas for erosion control and wildlife habitat. All of these practices are opinion only and our best advice as a result of these experiences. These recommendations do not cover all the conditions that will be encountered in the field. All of the information is for individual consideration. Ernst Conservation Seeds is not responsible for conditions that will be encountered in individual situations. The use of brand names does not represent our endorsement of a specific product; rather, it represents our experience only and has not necessarily been replicated in peer-reviewed research. The use of chemical pest control agents is subject to manufacturers’ instructions and labeling, as well as federal, state, and local regulations.
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