The Fortress Development Solutions team put on our first learning lunch event on the Guttersen Ranch. With guest speakers, an interactive site visit, and a homemade BBQ meal, this event was a lot of fun to put on. Kate Graves, our Reclamation Division Manager, brought together the best in the business to have an open discussion about reclamation practices, soil handling, best management practices, and emerging technology for the construction industry. Some of our topics included:
• Choosing native vs. introduced species in seed mixes by Dustin Terrell with Buffalo Brand Seed
• Cheatgrass control in rangeland and reclamation sites by Derek Sebastian and Shannon Clark with Bayer
• Soil compaction and grade in recontouring by Kate Graves with Fortress Development Solutions
• Topsoil handling in different soil types by Jesse Dillion with Cedar Creek
• Soil amendments and mulch by Laura Finch with Trinton Environmental
Follow along below as we break down the sites we visited, the key takeaways, and how you can be part of our next event.
This site featured 5 demonstration areas with Rejuvra applied aerially for the management of cheatgrass. The demo area locations were determined by varying levels of native plant community diversity. Cheatgrass increases the risk of wildfire, decreases wildlife habitat and quality forage for livestock. Once cheatgrass pressure is reduced, perennial grasses can thrive and reduce negative cheatgrass related issues. Since cheatgrass is 4x more apt to burn, it is a hazard during the dry season, especially with increased vehicle traffic and operations. We look forward to the results of the application and showing the native grassland diversity in the spring of 2022. We also discussed how introduced grasses could compete with cheatgrass, but in the long term, native grasses with perennial growth will lead to a healthier rangeland.
At this stop, we’re looking at how the native topsoil was handled during construction, and conditions after pipeline construction. When it comes to reducing erosion, soil health, and re-establishing vegetation, we believe in a holistic process. Before the pipeline was installed, the team came in to evaluate the current topsoil and the potential for erosion. This process started by looking at soil survey information and having an onsite representative observing excavation during construction. Topsoil was only fully removed over the trench and vegetation and root mass was used to keep the sandy soils stable and to minimize rutting. A good plan put in place before construction starts will set up your reclamation projects for success. Our team is constantly working to stabilize the land, create growth, and revitalize the soil for future use.
P&A reclamation site.
This area was seeded last spring, which resulted in a good cover crop of wheat due to an abundance of spring moisture. The cool season natives were reduced due to competition, but there was hope the warm season natives were laying dormant. This area was also showing the establishment of sagebrush, which is important for the ecosystem and catches snow which is also great for erosion prevention. We mowed the area to prevent fire and performed soil aeration to create microclimates along with additional seeding. Through maintenance and monitoring, we will see what the next steps will be for additional reclamation if needed. We have the ability to try different methods and seed mixes throughout the ranch.
This pipeline right of way is being irrigated with ranch-supplied water. The goal was to establish good vegetative cover before the winter for erosion prevention. Since the irrigation was started in the late summer into early fall, temperatures were lower and native species also started to germinate and establish. We are excited to measure plant cover and density next growing season as compared to non-irrigated areas.
Throughout the tour, our speakers and guests got to experience and discuss the process of doing reclamation on a full working ranch. With many moving parts, strategic planning, and the best team in the business, it’s easy to see why we love doing what we do. We would love to have you at our next event. Be sure to check back on our social media pages for updates on our next site tour.