During the winter of 2013 ABMI project scientists led workshops with professionals from industry and government to identify which indicators should be used to evaluate the ecological recovery of wellsites. Ecologists identified important indicators of vegetation recovery (e.g., per cent cover of individual plant species), and soil scientists identified important indicators of soil recovery (e.g., pH, bulk density). Using the identified recovery indicators, the ERM project developed a set of monitoring protocols that can be used to measure ecological recovery of soil and vegetation on certified wellsites in forested lands and grasslands of Alberta.
In summer 2013, with project collaborators at Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, field crews spent five weeks sampling soil and vegetation indicators at 18 wellsites and adjacent reference sites in the Dry Mixedgrass subregion of Alberta. From this effort, 1944 soil samples were collected and plant data was recorded from over 300 plots! In addition, lichen and moss samples were collected for future identification by ABMI taxonomists at the Royal Alberta Museum.