This article was originally published in Viewpoint: Perspectives on Modern Mining, a publication of Caterpillar Global Mining (2008-Issue Four)
While mining companies were working on becoming better citizens of Sudbury, an effort was under way to begin turning around the community’s barren landscape.
The newly formed Regional Municipality of Sudbury created a “Technical Tree Planting Committee,” which in 1978 changed its name to the Vegetation Enhancement Technical Advisory Committee (VETAC). The organization is committed to the restoration and protection of Sudbury’s air, land and water.
At the same time, joint work between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Laurentian University was under way to create the “science” necessary to regreen Sudbury’s landscape.
As part of its reclamation efforts, Vale Inco had tried sowing grass seed—which would germinate, but the roots would wither as soon as they encountered the contaminated soil. After years of experimentation, Laurentian researchers—led by the late Keith Winterhalder, a Laurentian professor and former VETAC chairman—learned that an application of ground limestone could detoxify soil. They also learned that if a sparse grass cover could be established on a rocky hillside that had been treated with limestone and fertilizer, seeds from the few existing trees in the area would blow in, germinate and grow.
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