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Reclamation techniques in southwestern wyoming


Bridger Coal Company operates a 5.8 million tpy surface coal mine thrity five miles northeast of Rock Springs. Wyoming. Approximately 20.000 acres are under permit, with disturbance over the life of the mine projected to reach 10,000 acres. Located on the western rim of the continental divide, the mine receives less than 8.5 inches of precipitation annually. Soils in the area are coarse-textured. and problems associated with elevated salinity and sodicity arc encountered.

A variety of common reclamation techniques have been modified to reflect these conditions. Soil horizons are segregated during salvage operations (the surface six inches as topsoil and the balance as subsoil). Unsuitable materials are not salvaged. Direct application of soil is used (over 130 acres in 1983) to maximize native plant regeneration and conserve soil fertility. Inter-seeding of seeding failures has proven to be significantly more successful than chisel plowing and reseeding. Broadcast seeding has been ineffective because of strong winds, and a no till drill has been modified to handle diverse seed mixes and rock conditions. The utility of fertilization under typically xeric moisture regimes is being evaluated. A research project has been initiated to assess establishment of a predominately native, diverse seed mix under irrigation, as well as to determine irrigation rates and duration.

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  1. Bridger Coal Company, 1980. Jim Bridger Mine Base Document, Wyoming Permit to Mine No. 338-C, Volume 2: Mine Plan.

  2. Bridger Coal Company, 1981. Jim Bridger Mine 1981 Annual Report, Permit to Mine No. 338-C. Volume 3: Irrigation.

  3. Bridger Coal Company, 1983. Jim Bridger Mine 1983 Annual Report, Permit to Mine No. 338-T1. Volume 1.

  4. Bridger Coal Company, 1984. Internal correspondence — Vegetation Monitoring.

  5. DePuit, E.J. and J.G. Coenenherg, 1979. Methods for establishment of native plant communities on topsoiled coal stripmine spoils in the Northern Great Plains. Reclamation Review 2:75–83.

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Parady, F.E. Reclamation techniques in southwestern wyoming. Environ Geochem Health 7, 26–27 (1985).

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  • Spinosa
  • Elevated Salinity
  • Reclamation Technique
  • Continental Divide
  • Seed Drill