Wetlands will emerge from mined-out gravel pit

A wetlands will emerge from a mined-out gravel pit in a Lacombe County project that puts a new spin on reclamation.

A wetlands will emerge from a mined-out gravel pit in a Lacombe County project that puts a new spin on reclamation.

Gravel pit operators are required to reclaim their sites when they are tapped out. Usually, if it’s a deep pit it becomes a small lake. Shallower excavations are filled in and returned to farmland.

At the county-owned Crooker East Pit, just north of the county offices on Spruceville Road and Hwy 12, a different approach will be taken. About 15,000 cubic metres of top soil will be hauled in to form the base for an eventual wetland.

“It’s kind of a new concept,” said Cajun Paradis, the county’s acting environmental co-ordinator. “Lot of pit operators don’t necessarily reclaim a pit to a reclaimed wetland. They’ll do a larger end-pit water body like a lake.”

Besides all of the natural benefits wetlands provide, the site will also provide replacement wetlands required under provincial legislation. When wetland is removed for road building or other construction, it must be replaced elsewhere.

Phil Lodermeier, the county’s manager of operations, says in a report that went to council last week that it’s hoped the wetlands project will show the gravel industry what can be done when they are finished with their sites.

It is predicted all the gravel in the Crooker Pit will be crushed and removed by the summer of 2015. Reclamation work is expected to be completed in 2016.

Soil for reclamation will come from 30,000 cubic metre’s worth offered free of charge by developers stripping land for an industrial subdivision.

Council voted on Thursday to set a $320,000 budget target for the soil haul and see how much companies will haul to Crooker and other pits needing reclamation.

The money will come from a reserve built up from levies to gravel companies.

Crooker is only one of a number of reclamation projects underway.

Lacombe school children helped with a tree planting project earlier this month at a different nearby gravel pit.

D&M Concrete Products Ltd. operates the pit on the site that was given to the county. The tree planting project was a joint effort by the company and county to create a community green space. Another nine acres at the pit has already been returned to hay land.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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