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Eco Reclamation Benefits

Most people will agree that reclaiming land possesses many benefits, but what are the actual benefits? The benefits seem limitless and continue to expand with the innovation of creative developers. The companies and developers who undertake mine reclamation promote land sustainability and the availability of usable land to future generations. Some of the benefits that humanity and the environment receives from reclaiming land include the creation of nature parks, the purification of water, and the creation of increased habitat for wildlife, and natural preserves for fauna.

Many mining companies donated reclaimed land to local cities and forest services. Because the land undergoes reclamation, cities and people take advantage of previously unusable land and convert such property into parks and recreational areas. Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, Canada serves as a typical example. Mr. Butchart previously mined limestone on the land for the Portland Cement Company. When mining terminated, Mr. Butchart filled the quarry with topsoil and began his "Sunken Garden." The fifty-acre Sunken Garden transformed into a Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, and Rose Garden. What previously served as a rock quarry now serves as the premier garden on the West Coast, admitting over one million visitors a year.

Golf courses also benefit from mine reclamation. The Parfet Clay Pits in Golden, Colorado produced large amounts of clay in the 1900's. During mining, many fossils emerged from the walls of the pit. Lagoons also appeared, created when mining pits filled with water. After mining completed, the landscape of the pit created a perfect setting for a golf course. The lagoons served as water hazards, the fossil walls create a landscape that only exists at the Fossil Trace Golf Club, and the topography creates a challenging course layout. The Club would not exist if people did not take the time to reclaim the site, creating something useful out of disturbed land.

Reclamation also creates new sources of water in the form of reservoirs. Climax Mine, in Colorado, previously functioned as a molybdenum mine, but has since converted into the Eagle Park Reservoir. Pits were left in the earth collecting snowmelt from the mountains surrounding the site. To create the reservoir, Climax removed contaminated soil and purified the water. The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District monitored the supply for contamination and deemed it safe for consumption. The reservoir, now the largest of its kind in the area, supplies fresh water to local towns during dry months.


Vulcan Materials Company reclaimed 150 acres of land used for sand and gravel mining. The 450- acre site is still a functioning as a mine with sections adapted into a protected wildlife habitat. Vulcan, along with community volunteers, planted butterfly and hummingbird gardens along with native trees. The group also transformed the area into a protected habitat for the eastern bluebird, American kestrel, purple martin and wood duck. The group planted clover, orchard grass and rye in a field that now serves as food and cover for deer and other wildlife. Throughout the reserve, Vulcan and the volunteers built bridges, cleaned trails, planted trees, and cleaned up the site. The mining quarry transformed into a wildlife habitat used to educate children in local schools about native plants and wildlife.

The Ted McGee Mica Mine, owned by Zemex Industrial Minerals Corporation, also used reclaimed land in a positive way. After the mica mining stopped, Zemex back filled the pits and replaced the topsoil they removed at the beginning of the operation. In order to stabilize the loose topsoil, the company quickly reseeded and provided mulch to the area preventing loss of valuable soil. The reclamation process was completed without damaging or contaminating the nearby South Toe River System. As a result of the reclamation project, the land on the Ted MCGee Mine serves as grassland for grazing cattle.

Land reclamation not only benefits agriculture, but also benefits residential areas. Lafarge North America reclaimed land around an aggregate mine by creating lakes. The lakes collect surface run-off water, which traps suspended solids in order to protect the quality of the Cuyahoga River. Private residences were then built around the lakeshore. In order to increase the value of the land for the homeowners near the newly created lakes, Lafarge planted trees and vegetation in the area to replace the habitat that had been displaced. Because of reclamation, Lafarge transformed mine land into a residential area and a preserve for wildlife.


The coal mining company of Göttelborn, Germany reclaimed a coal mine and converted it into a field of solar panels. The company not only produces energy with coal, but now produces electricity with solar power. Fifty thousand panels cover an area of over 165, 000 square meters and produce up to 4 megawatts of energy. The mine site proved an excellent location for the panels due to the 1,800 hours of sunlight it receives a year. The mining company hopes to increase operation, supplying Germany with 8 megawatts of solar energy. Because of its sixe the Göttelborn site remains the largest photovoltaic plant in the world.

The list heralding the benefits of land reclamation can continue to encompass many more sites. Modern mining companies now take steps to reverse damages to land, water, and wildlife caused by their activities. The federal government also remains an integral part of the reclamation process. Many mining sites that have been abandoned by companies that no longer exist, may take advantage of the Super Fund, or CERCLA, and undergo reclamation. The benefits of reclamation are vast, and most importantly reclamation remains a vital part of the future and current welfare of the environment.



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