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  • Writer's pictureSam Streeter

COGCC Lunch and Learn February 2 2022

Updated: Jan 23, 2022

Technological Advancements in Reclamation

2 Feb 2022

New technologies have provided operators and inspectors the ability to inventory and monitor facilities during pre-construction and production, as well as interim and final reclamation. Multispectral and ortho imagery can be used to evaluate system functions to meet the regulatory objectives. These technologies consist of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)/Drones, software and data analytics. This nexus has improved our ability to access and process land use information through precision sensors and faster analytics. UAS equipment enables multiple sensors to be flown simultaneously, which allows for rapid and repeatable captures of site specific information at high resolutions. Incorporating advanced UAS Remote Sensing and Geospatial technologies into the remediation and reclamation processes has revolutionized the detection of the physical and biological characteristics of an area. This is imperative due to the fact that reclamation processes are influenced by several factors including, landscape position, soil types, moisture and temperature regimes, erosion characteristics, and nutrient availability. Up until recently evaluating a systems characteristics was limited to on the ground observations and measurements within a narrow inspection window. High resolution datasets provide site specific characterization data for sites being developed and their reference locations, which guides the development planning processes, such as topsoil salvage and management plans, site evaluation reports, and site specific reclamation plans. These high resolution derivatives include orthomosaics, topography, elevation, hydrology, slope, contouring, and vegetation analysis, also referred to as Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). These derivatives, together with traditional physical and chemical soil analytics and soil health parameters, provide a distinctive set of tools for improving edaphic ecosystem services, while providing a mechanism to document the landscape change over time during different stages of development.

Scientifically evaluating multispectral vegetation indices such as NDVI and NDRE (redEdge/NIR), quantitatively and qualitatively depicts the vegetative health of a specific area at a specific time. The imagery coupled with field observations improve on the traditional analysis methods of determining vegetative establishment and thus recovery percentages and weed inventories. In addition, monitoring different aspects of a system, such as changes in hydrological functions, can be ascertained as a derivative of remotely sensed high resolution datasets. These analytical methods can reveal stormwater management priorities and erosion issues (riling/gullying), ponding, and salinization that are impacting reclamation success. In addition, these tools enable more accurate recommendation for reclamation through precision soil sampling, exceedance characterization, germination monitoring for both native seed mixes and crop establishment. Long-term monitoring objects can also be achieved from these datasets in providing spatially accurate information for modeling of wind & water erosion, compaction, slope stability, and predicting land hazards. The use of UAS and data analytics can streamline the reclamation and regulatory processes, leading to faster permit closure which saves time and money for stakeholders at all levels.

Presented by:

Judy Daniels, Ph.D.

Sam Streeter, CPSS


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