Salvage and Restoration of Biological Soil Crust on an Urban Superfund Site, Midvale, UT (USA)

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Susan K. Sherrod

Publication Date:

Biological soil crust became an unexpected focus of restoration at a Superfund site in Midvale (Salt Lake County), UT (14.4” annual precipitation). Jordan Bluff was a steel mill tailings pile active from 1906 to 1971, remediated in the 1990s, and removed from the Superfund National Priorities List in 2004. Although it had already been designated for native habitat restoration as part of a multi-use urban development, the presence of volunteer Syntrichia sp. and other soil crust assemblages was not known until an ecological site assessment, prompted by pursuit of LEED certification. Thanks to a sustainability-minded client the soil crust became the center of attention for education, restoration, and the construction schedule. A crew was mobilized to salvage and store the crust until its redistribution post-planting (still pending). Biological soil crust communities are essential to soil stabilization, water infiltration, and fertility in arid ecosystems. This presentation will describe the steps taken to date at Jordan Bluff, review the state of knowledge of soil crust restoration methods, and discuss the relevance of crust restoration in the context of climate change and desertification.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program