The public desires and the law requires that land disturbed by phosphate mining and processing must be restored to a useful condition, and in some cases to the point where the ecological systems function like they did before the land was mined. This area of research also includes finding the best ways to reclaim land for more intensive human uses, to minimize environmental hazards, and to improve aesthetics.
Since opening, the Institute has funded research to find out what it takes to reclaim lakes, streams, wetlands, dry uplands, scrub habitat, forested areas, and phosphatic clay settling areas. This includes studying wildlife, vegetation, hydrology, and soils. The FIPR Institute’s reclamation research also addresses phosphogypsum stack closure issues such as economical and effective ways to establish vegetation on the stacks. The FIPR Institute has also studied ways to use reclaimed lands for agricultural purposes and has put on a number of symposiums and conferences related to all reclamation issues.
As time moves on and reclamation projects mature, reclamation research builds on what has been learned and practiced since 1975. Issues and topics include restoring ecological systems such as uplands, wetlands, lakes and streams, but research also focuses on water quality and quantity issues connected to restoring the essential hydrologic functions and balances of surface and groundwater systems. A research focus in this area includes evaluating the impact of clay settling areas on area water quality and quantity.
FIPR Institute research also tracks how reclaimed areas are evolving and looks at techniques to improve habitat and minimize the use of herbicides and other artificial maintenance. Reclamation research also continues to look at what can be done with phosphatic clay and clay settling areas.