Earth Day Award Nomination ConocoPhillips Reese Canyon Drill Site Grand Staircase-Escalante National...

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  • Earth Day Award NominationConocoPhillips

    Reese Canyon Drill Site

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

  • Project History OverviewExploration well drilled in 1997 when site was under State ownershipState accepted original reclamation effortsLand ownership was transferred to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1999ConocoPhillips continued reclamation of the five acre site by seeding in 2002, monitoring in 2003, and replanting in 2004.

  • Location information45 miles southeast of Escalante, UTLocated in remote area of the Kaiparowits Plateau Area contains network of canyons with steep slopes and sandstone ledgesSurrounding vegetation is pinyon-juniper interspersed with sagebrush shrubland

  • Reese Canyon Setting

  • Original Reclamation Efforts Phase 1Site was regraded and seeded in 1997 with limited successNative, BLM approved seed mix was usedDark soils and south facing slopes presented challenges to restoration of the site

  • Phase 2 ReclamationMaxim Technologies contracted in 2002 to reseed site with mix of native shrubs, forbs, and grassesSite was mulched for moisture retentionBaseline vegetation studies implemented to track project successModerate success due to drought conditions

  • Phase 2 Reclamation

  • Phase 2 Reclamation Vegetation Studies

  • Phase 3 Reclamation ATC Associates contracted in 2004 to conduct further reclamationContinued vegetation monitoringInnovative strategies such as pocket planting implementedSmall and large woody debris added to site to retain soil moisture and slow erosion

  • Phase 3 Reclamation Pocket PlantingsPocket plantings

  • Phase 3 Reclamation Palmer penstemon

  • Phase 3 Reclamation

  • Phase 3 Reclamation

  • Phase 4 Reclamation 2005 ActivitiesConocoPhillips/ATC Associates will conduct a reconnaissance trip this spring to determine extent of any erosionErosion control structures will be implemented as neededRussian thistle seedlings will be removedAnnual vegetation monitoring data will be collected

  • Award JustificationContinued commitment to reclamation of site regardless of state approvalUse of innovative techniques to achieve reclamation successEstablishment and seed production of native species on a site with poor growing conditions

    Left shot is a photo of the surrounding landscape and the right photo is the site in operationBetween 1997 and 1999 a local person was contracted to tend the site, repairing any erosion features and general site maintenance. I think he used boy scouts to help him.

    Native seed mix included sagebrush, fourwing saltbush, bitterbrush, Indian ricegrass, galleta, needle and thread grass, bottlebrush squirreltail, blue flax, Nelson globemallow, and palmer penstemon. Maxim helped us install and read vegetation transects on the site in 2003. We placed daubenmire frames along a line to record plant cover. A total of 40 daubenmire frames were read on the site. These were re-read in 2004.Sections of the site showed great response but the middle area was still somewhat bare. We decided to pocket plant the middle area rather than seed it again. The idea behind pocket planting was to place containerized plants in islands throughout the site to push the reclamation ahead a phase and provide pockets of mature plants within the early seral stage of the rest of the site. These islands/pockets would provide a seed source within the interior of the site and would provide some structure and nurse sites for seedlings. The container plants were grown using native seed obtained within monument boundaries and additional monument seed was collected and distributed in the interspaces.These were several feet tall and flowering/producing seed by summer of 2004.Palmer penstemon and peppergrass are the most visible here. Sagebrush and bitterbrush are also doing well but are slower growing and more difficult to see.Vegetation transect running through the site.ConocoPhillips is willing to do whatever it takes this year to move the reclamation forward. I expect that with the good winter and spring moisture that we have had that we will see a really nice response this year. One of our backcountry rangers bumped into the site on his rounds last summer and called me up to say how amazed he was to see a sea of green vegetation and flowers on the site. I think this year will be even better.Emphasize that ConocoPhillips has continued to restore this site even though the state bought off on their reclamation efforts years ago. Management from ConocoPhillips has visited the site themselves and has directed their consultants to take whatever action is needed to bring the site up to the monuments expectations. They have really gone above and beyond what was legally required for this site and have encouraged trying some innovative approaches to fixing earlier failures. The next year or two will determine whether this site is a true success story but it is on the right track and has been pushed forward a great deal with the addition of container stock.