THE MINED LAND: A SHORT FIELD GUIDE

The idea for this handbook grew out of our involvement in the Laurentian Vision Partnership since the year 2000.  The Laurentian Vision Partnership (LVP) based on the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota, is a voluntary effort that promotes and advances ideas for rebuilding local landscapes, creating working relationships among stakeholders, and active participation by communities in directing their future. Fifteen years after it’s beginning, the LVP continues to facilitate dialogue among interests, provide funding for reclamation projects, and identify regional issues for resolution discussion.

Based on our experiences conducting design workshops (charrettes in 2001, 2003, and 2007), developing and conducting an introductory course on land design for mining engineers and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Lands and Minerals Division staff (MNDNR) (2009), working on restoration demonstration projects (3) and mine master planning (North Shore 2013-2014) it is clear that Range mining engineers were/are interested in ways to better shape and plant mine features for future community use, habitat and visual quality as long as they are feasible given the State reclamation standards.  This handbook provides for mine engineers and equipment operators’ simple illustrations in a booklet form that they can keep in the cab of their trucks:

·      Reclamation and shaping concepts we have discussed and developed with mining engineers or are in the process of applying on mine features or mine sites, and

·      Ideas for the state’s reclamations standards that may meet its applicable research criteria that can be applied and tested in the field.

It is the first of what we believe could be a small series of technical “field Guides” that could provide a variety of ideas for progressive mine land reclamation.  We have worked collaboratively enough with mine engineers in various settings to possess and understanding of what would be useful to them for progressive restoration, both in content and in format.  Several sources for the handbook’s content, such as:

·      Summarization of planning and design scenarios generated from our design charrettes

·      Course work for and discussions during our land design course

·      Reclamation demonstration projects

·      Master planning efforts

·      Positive response to previously developed technical drawings for the demonstration projects

·      MN DNR reclamation standards

·      MN DNR Enhancement Guidelines for mitigation of watershed disruption (Northshore Peter Mitchell Mine)

·      Research on successful mine reclamation efforts from around the world

·      Identification of naturally regenerated attractive former mine features (e.g. old stockpiles, rock pile dumps, small pit lake edges, facility roads and tracks) unaffected by the implementation of the 1980 reclamation standards

indicate interest in softer more naturalistic landscaping where possible, planting beyond standard non-native ground coverage for better native vegetative cover, habitat establishment and improved appearance, interest in screening of stockpiles from public view, and how to reuse mine features for other uses (recreation), as long as opportunities for future mining are not foreclosed.  We have also used photos to show landscape features we believe could be replicated, and use of simple but clear diagrams that provide clear information at a broad enough scale to facilitate implementation.

 

Role of the Landscape Architects

The landscape architects were responsible for the initial idea of creating a useful and readily accessible reclamation communication tool for mining engineers and field equipment operators, securing grant funding to research, write and illustrate the document, developing the techniques and ideas for reclamation in conjunction with mining engineers, conceptual layout, writing the text, developing the illustrations, and final editing and proofing of the Field Guide.