Students from the Lander Middle School teamed up with representatives from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to plant Sage Brush seedlings at the Andria Mine, east of Riverton. The joint effort is the first installment in a continuing education effort known as the Abandoned Mine Lands Native Plants Project.
Representatives from the two organizations took students to plant at the site on November 13th and 14th after spending some time with participating students in the classroom.
According to Don Newton, Project Manager for the Abandoned Mine Lands Division of the DEQ, “The goal is to improve the plant community at some of our older reclaimed mine sites. We revegetate the mine sites after we reclaim them and one of the species that is most difficult to grow is Sage Brush, so that’s what we started with.”
The project was the brainchild of BLM and DEQ members with the goal of improving plant communities at older reclaimed mine sites in the state, said Gina Clingerman, Abandoned Mine Lands Archeologist at the BLM. “We work really closely together to clean up and take care of abandoned mines throughout the state. We knew that we had some mines that were missing a key component to the Sage Brush ecology, so, we thought that this would be a really good project to team up on.”
“Every year the DEQ and the BLM have a joint meeting to talk about where we’re going with this year’s reclamation efforts, where we’re going as agencies, and how we’re going to work together,” said Clingerman. “We were talking about Sage Grouse and the loss of Sage Brush habitat and ways that we can be a part of the reclamation picture. The BLM sponsors several programs that can help with that, one of them being the Seeds of Success Program.”
The Seeds of Success Program collects native seed, saves it and stores it in a seed bank. Any extra seeds collected by the program can be turned into plants for the BLM and its various projects. “We used Seeds of Success to get our Sage Brush seedlings started,” said Clingerman. “We also used the Sage Brush in Prisons Program, which is another joint effort sponsored by the BLM, to grow those seedlings out.”
Other organizations involved in the Abandoned Mine Lands Native Plants Project: The Nature Conservancy; The Wyoming Wildlife Federation; Fremont County Weed and Pest; Office of Surface Mining; Reclamation and Enforcement; The Popo Agie Conservation District; The Muley Fanatics Foundation