Pipeline reclamation in action part 2: restoring the land

This is part two of our ‘pipeline reclamation in action’ series. In part one, we learned about the planning and pre-construction measures taken by Kinder Morgan Canada to facilitate reclamation after the completion of their Trans Mountain Anchor Loop project.

We explained that Kinder Morgan received an Alberta Emerald Award for this project and this week we’re going to explore what set it apart and made it worthy of such a prestigious award.

This is a continuation of our conversation with Greg Toth, Anchor Loop project director:

Q: After construction was completed, how did reclamation efforts start?

Greg: Most of the pipeline right-of-way was seeded immediately following the project’s completion, with native seed mixes cultivated specifically for each geographical area. Sensitive areas and areas along rivers were replanted with more than 220,000 plants which had been propagated in specially-constructed greenhouses.

Intensive irrigation and plant protection programs were set up to help protect seedlings and plants from drying out and from wildlife grazing and browsing until established, and some targeted areas were fenced. Some habitat trees were installed for wildlife, and wildlife visual barriers were created through plantings or man-made windfall trees, to help protect prey animals by reducing the line of sight along the pipeline’s right of way.

Q: What made this project unique?

Greg: There were a few things that really helped define this project, and many activities that were pioneering at the time. First off, the collaboration with interest groups was very strong from early on, and to the benefit of the project. The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society as well as several other interest groups were instrumental and came to the table to identify issues, develop mitigation strategies and come up with an overall ‘net benefits’ program for the parks. Our intent was to enhance biological diversity and leave the parks in a better condition than when we entered them. Some of the things we did included removing overhanging culverts, which had created barriers to fish movement, and installing single span bridges, and restoring historic gravel pits and parks sites that were never reclaimed after initial construction. The care and attention to detail paid to restoration and reclamation was truly unique, and the use of native seed and plant cuttings on the right-of-way, planted with the help of locals and Aboriginal peoples, was an accomplishment that we’re very proud of.

Q: Why does reclamation matter? Why is it important to Trans Mountain?

Reclamation is really the final stage of the construction process and is one of the lasting impressions people are left with. It has been eight years since construction in Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park and those who are familiar with the pipeline in the park comment on how good it looks and the job that was done. Those who don’t know it’s a pipeline right-of-way don’t say much….which is actually a good sign that reclamation is doing its part!

Check out part one of this post to learn more about the measures that were taken before and during construction, leading up to this reclamation project.

You can also learn more about the reclamation process in these earlier posts: