Electronic Field Guide » Restoration & Goals » Setting Goals

Prepared by Patrick Drohan (Ecosystem Science and Management)

Long-term restoration goals need to be explicitly determined early in the process. This should begin with consideration of questions such as these:

  • What is the site like now in terms of its quality, soil function, community type, natural features, and plant and wildlife species?
  • What should the site look like after initial drilling pad placement/road widening or placement?
  • What should the site look like after natural gas extraction is completed?
Invasive plants are of particular concern on sites where reforestation is the ultimate restoration goal, because many invasive plants can interfere with forest regeneration. For more information, see Invasive Plant Management in this field guide.

Many sites will require interim reclamation. After an initial large-scale disturbance, the footprint of the disturbance may be scaled back, but there will still be gas-related activity on the pad or pipeline. All parts of the site not needed for further production should be restored as quickly as possible, including recontouring, returning topsoil, revegetating, protecting edges, and possibly enhancing wildlife habitat.

Final restoration occurs when all activity at a site is complete, and the site can be returned as close as possible to its original state, depending on the site goals. Topsoil, which should have been locally stockpiled, should be returned to cover the site. The entire area should be seeded, if possible with native seed mixes. If forest regeneration is the long-term goal, tree-compatible ground cover should be established, as well as at least two types of trees. Protection from deer may be important to establish the tree seedlings.  Any invasive species present on the site should be managed (see Invasive Plant Management in this field guide).
If possible, the site should be evaluated ecologically, and the new condition should be compared to the original condition. A final report can document successful restoration of a site.