Fortress Development Solutions and Guttersen Ranch hosted members of the HAR SER-RM 2022 Conference for a BBQ lunch, ranch tour, and reclamation demonstration. Kate Graves, from our Stewardship, Environmental and Reclamation Division, showed guests around to some of our working sites and initiated great open discussions on industry trends. We toured projects that our reclamation team has been working on over the last year, including cheatgrass control and soil amendment demonstrations, fencing, and irrigation.
Our first location featured initial results of our cheatgrass Rejuvra application project from last fall, in cooperation with Bayer. A helicopter was used to complete aerial spraying on different vegetation diversity and terrain on the Ranch. The application suppressed cheatgrass vegetation which allows for native grass to thrive and a key factor in sustainable grass growth in the future.
NRCS spoke about how Rejuvra is showing to be a great option due to longevity of control without the need for yearly application. Many types of land managers are excited about the product, as cheatgrass pressure is reduced, the native vegetation biomass is increased, it provides more valuable forage and improves grazing patterns for cattle and wildlife.
Buffalo Brand Seed provided information on choosing seed mixes. Many species of cool season grasses are coming up early in the spring and adding to the variety on the ranch. We are excited to see what growth and species we have now to later in the spring. Using diverse native seed mixes helps to continue the long-term sustainability of the land and your projects, as well as planning around timely rain and snow. If irrigation becomes necessary, we’re ready with our water hauling team! Our irrigation trials on the project showed that we were putting out 42 gallons per minute through a reel sprinkler to keep up with watering needs.
We also found with this project, that even though a very sandy soil texture, sub-surface compaction was an issue. Once addressing with specialized tillage equipment, water erosion was reduced, vegetation established, and wind erosion minimized.
Art & Parker Guttersen, our owners, stressed how the partnership between Chevron and the Guttersen Ranch is a great benefit to land management, care for the environment and education to multiple stakeholders. They really take a “leave no trace” approach to each site and want to leave the land a better place after operations.
We visited a plug and abandoned well location that had road base removed, soil imported, then had been cross ripped, disked, drill seeded, and straw mulched. With high wind and erosion potential, the import and native soil are blended to minimize soil blow out. Straw mulch will still move offsite if high winds come through before precipitation, but we can always come back and add more if needed. We exhibited how cattle can be of benefit in the reclamation process as well, through hoof action and cow pies to create microclimates for germinating seed and reduce wind erosion. We hope for rain soon and will begin to see growth from our seeding in the next weeks!
We also visited an area where pipeline was installed last fall and Cedar Creek Associates spoke about the topsoil texture being 90% sand, which is a challenge to work with. To reduce erosion and assist with revegetation, we left as much topsoil as we could in place where excavation was not occurring. The right of way was watered for dust control, fire prevention, and to maintain roots and soil stability. Our methods and planning in the reclamation process bring a revitalization to the land after it’s been disturbed!
We always enjoy hosting guests on the ranch and this conference was no different. Having an open discussion about reclamation practices and high altitude challenges and showing in person demonstrations is what we enjoy most. When you bring together top talent in the field, it always leads to new learning, collaboration, and ideas. We want to thank everyone who came out to the ranch and helped make this year’s event a great one. We’re planning to host another event in June to show off more projects and continue the learning process as we build towards new construction development projects. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay up to date on all Fortress and ranch related events.