Revegetation of a Brine-killed Forest Site
Natural invasion of herbaceous plants and forest tree seedlings on a brine-killed forest site in northwestern Pennsylvania was evaluated over a 4-yr period. Brine generated from producing oil wells and accidently discharged to the soil of an Allegheny hardwood stand killed all of the vegetation it contacted, leaving the site unproductive and a visual nuisance. Once the brine source was eliminated, heavy spring rains quickly reduced brine concentrations in the soil to below toxic levels, allowing invasion of vegetation to proceed rapidly. Herbaceous plants and tree seedlings became established in the first year, and by Year 2 the site had regenerated naturally to full stocking with a desirable mix of forest trees. Results show that forest sites damaged by brine from oil wells can heal rapidly without mitigative treatment if the brine source is removed and there is abundant precipitation to flush the soil.
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