Wetland Mitigation in Abandoned Gravel Pits
Kurt W Johnson
Report no. Mn/DOT 2010-11
It is becoming increasingly difficult to provide on-site mitigation for wetland impacts due to road construction in northeastern Minnesota counties that retain greater than 80 percent of their pre-settlement wetlands. Abandoned gravel pits are one of the few remaining areas that can serve as wetland mitigation sites. The overall goal of the project is to develop cost-effective methods for creating functional mitigation wetlands on abandoned gravel pit sites to compensate for wetland impacts due to road construction. Two approximately 1-hectare wetland creation demonstration sites were established in adjacent abandoned gravel pits within the U.S. Trunk Highway 53 reconstruction corridor to evaluate techniques for wetland establishment. Wet meadow and shrub swamp wetlands were attempted on one site, and wooded swamp and bog wetlands on the other. Wetland seed mixes provided both positive and negative effects on the developing plant communities on both sites initially but their effect was limited to the first year. Alder thicket and bog donor soil applications had positive effects but not until the third year of the study. Hardwood willow cuttings were effective for establishing a shrub component. Conifer seedlings did not survive unless planted on soil mounds. Fertilizer proved ineffective for promoting wetland plant growth during the study period. The use of straw mulch is questionable on saturated wetland sites such as those in this study.