I am writing in response to Paula Pick’s Aug. 26 letter to the editor in which I was erroneously credited with comments about the environmental impact of mining on grassland ecosystems.
In a July 30, 2011, article in The Daily News regarding the proposed Ajax mine, I was quoted saying, “The proposed Ajax mine, if it goes ahead, will radically reshape and alter this landscape for at least the 23-year working life of the mine and likely for 50 to 100 years beyond.”
I made this statement two years ago and I would say the same today about systems that received no restoration efforts.
In Kamloops, we live in a dry, low productivity area where slow soil-building processes limits the speed of grassland recovery following a major disturbance.
However, I have never claimed it takes eons for the fragile cryptogamic crust to form, likely 10,000 years and a couple of glaciers, as asserted in Pick’s letter to the editor.
Ecosystem restoration is a relatively new science and has been referred to as a litmus test of our understanding of the ecological processes that control our environment. Research is needed to understand grassland ecosystems and to provide guidelines for successful ecosystem recovery.
My colleagues, my students, and I are working with industry partners to test different methods to improve grassland restoration, including applying native seed mixes, experimenting with soil amendments, using methods to prevent non-native invasive plants, and applying a range of grazing intensities to maximize plant growth response.
Ecosystems can be disturbed in many different ways, both natural and human-caused; therefore we need the tools to reclaim ecosystems and to restore the beneficial services they provide.
DR. LAUCHLAN H. FRASER
Professor and Canada Research Chair
Departments of Natural Resource Sciences/Biological Sciences
Thompson Rivers University