Screens & Feeders

Reclaim, grass, plant ? and repeat

The Newcrete quarry site between Foxtrap and St John’s, in Newfoundland, Canada, has been exhausted of its sand and gravel reserves. Since June this year, Newcrete has begun an extensive remediation process at cost, laying down topsoil and hydroseeding over seven hectares of quarry land and, with the assistance of volunteers, planting over 10,000 tree seedlings.

Hydroseeding combines a slurry of seed and mulch that is sprayed over a large stretch of prepared ground in a very short period of time. It can be very effective for hillsides and slopes to assist with erosion control and quick planting. Hydroseeding is considered more cost-effective than planting with sod, although it is more expensive than broadcast seeding. Nevertheless, results are quick, with high germination rates producing grass growth within a week.

“This is part of our progressive reclamation program,” Newcrete’s aggregate resources manager Rod Mercer told St John’s The Telegram newspaper. “So we mine a section, reclaim, grass, plant trees, move on to the next section and do the same thing.”

Provincial regulation
Newcrete’s commitment to reclamation of the quarry has exceeded the provincial regulation governing its quarry lease. While submission of a standard environmental reclamation plan is required of any company before it can be awarded a lease, the regulation only demands a layer of overburden to fill the quarry. There is no compulsion for hydroseeding or the planting of new trees.

Newcrete, however, has gone much further with this particular site and has achieved success in reclaiming other extraction sites in the past. “We’ve done this in several other areas and a site we did five years ago now has trees that are 60 to 70cm high,” Mercer reported.

The reclamation work at Foxtrap has been supported by the Kelligrews Ecological Enhancement Program (KEEP), a volunteer group focused on environmental education and protection of local areas in the province, including the Kelligrews River and Pond. The group has long believed that the provincial regulation for quarry reclamation is inadequate and should be revised.

“Over the years, whenever there was a proposal for a quarry development, we went,” KEEP volunteer Karen Morris explained. “And we said to them that remediation as per the legislation was only recontour and replace the grubbed-out material and of course that’s useless because if there are no nutrients, it doesn’t do anything. So you have a moonscape for a long time.”

In contrast, tree planting at the Newcrete Foxtrap site was completed by volunteers from Forests Without Borders, whose members have expertise in the Canadian forestry industry. The tree species they planted included eastern larch (juniper), black spruce and white spruce.

Newcrete’s reclamation work so far spans only a portion of the quarry. Work is set to continue.

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