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The biological costs of not reclaiming bentonite mine spoilsAuthor(s): Carolyn Hull Sieg; Daniel W. Uresk; Richard M. Hansen
Source: In: Proceedings of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Western Division American Fisheries Society; Las Vegas, Nevada, July 19-22, 1982. Boise, ID: Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. p. 272-277.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: View PDF (445.61 KB)
DescriptionBentonite clay has been mined in the northern Great Plains for more than 80 years. Until the late 1960's, mine spoil materials were left in steep piles and no effort was made to restore biological productivity to these disturbed sites. As a result, unreclaimed spoils are barren and eroded. The biological costs of not reclaiming these spoils are examined in this paper, in terms of plant canopy cover, plant standing crop, small mammal productivity and invertebrate numbers. Vegetation, small mammals and ground-dwelling macroarthropods were sampled for two years on unreclaimed bentonite spoils mined in the 1950's and in adjacent unmined sagebrush grasslands in southeastern Montana. The most significant biological cost of not reclaiming these old spoils was the loss of plant cover and production, followed by a decrease in macroarthropod numbers, and, finally, the loss of small mammal habitat and a decrease in small mammal numbers.
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CitationSieg, Carolyn Hull; Uresk, Daniel W.; Hansen, Richard M. 1982. The biological costs of not reclaiming bentonite mine spoils. In: Proceedings of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Western Division American Fisheries Society; Las Vegas, Nevada, July 19-22, 1982. Boise, ID: Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. p. 272-277.
Keywordsbetonite clay, mine spoils, reclamation, biological costs
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