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Forested Wetland Mitigation: Developing Techniques to Restore Northern White-Cedar on Clay Settling Areas in Northern Michigan

Westley, S. R. 2022. Michigan Technological University


When permitted activities degrade or destroy wetlands, mitigation is required by both state and federal laws (Michigan Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act). Forested wetlands are considered keystone ecosystems, but restoration of these systems is often limited by the environmental complexities and the slow growth of the long-lived tree species. Using a combination of greenhouse and field experiments, my research goal was to develop techniques to create northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.) forested wetlands in reclaimed/abandoned mining quarries. There are numerous environmental stressors in the inorganic sediments of reclaimed quarries including high moisture retention, low porosity, and lack of nutrients. I tested using soil amendments in full factorial treatments using: fertilizer (F), arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), and organic matter. In addition to the soil amendment experiments, I also tested how seedling survival was influenced by soil moisture. Our results show that soil moisture had the greatest influence on survival in both the greenhouse and field trials. The addition of organic matter and AM improved seedling survival and growth while fertilizer decreased survival. My research indicates that the addition of organic matter and planting at the right water table levels are the best techniques to create forested wetlands in quarry sediments.