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Natural vegetation at the proposed Reference Repository Location in southeastern Washington

Description: The dominant shrubs were sagebrush and spiny hopsage; the herbs were dominated by cheatgrass and Sandberg bluegrass. Spiny hopsage appeared to be vulnerable to burning and also to damage by off-road vehicular traffic. It appears to have little or no ability to reproduce through seedlings; once the existing plants are killed they are not likely to be replaced, even if seed-producing plants are nearby. The only pure stand of spiny hopsage known to exist on the Hanford Site is on and near study plot 2H. Sagebrush, like spiny hopsage, is killed by burning and by heavy vehicles. Sagebrush is capable of reproducing via seeds, indicating that it is an inherently aggressive species with a capacity to reestablish itself if parent plants are in the vicinity to act as seed sources. Alien, annual plants, especially cheatgrass, were a major contributor to the herbaceous canopy cover in plots 3S, 4S, and 5S. However, native perennial grasses, especially Sandberg bluegrass, were a major contributor to the canopy cover in plots 1S and 2H. These differences are probably caused by differences in soil properties (e.g., water retention capacity), rather than to historical disturbances such as livestock grazing or wildfire. Specimens of Sandwort, Arenaria franklinii, growing near the Reference Repository Location were collected for examination by taxonomists to determine if the specimens are of the variety A. f. thompsonii, a taxon currently listed as threatened in the state of Washington. 16 refs., 7 figs., 3 tabs.
Date: February 1, 1988
Creator: Rickard, W.H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Land restoration after strip mining for coal

Description: Recent legislation requires that lands surface mined for coal be returned to approximate original topography and vegetative cover be restored. Spoils provide poor rooting habitat because of extreme stoniness or excessive slope steepness which provide few niches for seeds to become lodged and also spoil may provide poor mineral nutrition, poor water retention and sometimes the spoil may even have chemical properties detrimental to plant growth (acidity, alkalinity or even unusually large amounts of toxic mineral elements i.e., copper, sodium). To provide a substrate better suited for plant growth, recommendations for restoration call for deep burial of unfavorable substrate components i.e., rocks and materials of unusual chemistry and the dressing of reshaped spoil with topsoil i.e., material with the most favorable properties for plant growth. Even though all the substrate requirements for healthy plant growth may be met, such as adding a form of available nitrogen as fertilizer, plants will not grow if weather conditions are extreme. For example, in very dry (desert) climates precipitation may be too scanty or too erratic to permit the successful establishment of many kinds of plants. Even under the most favorable conditions plant productivity averaged over a period of years is low. Also in very cold climates the growing season may be limited to only a few weeks in summer e.g., arctic and alpine tundra regions. This shortens the time available for photosynthesis and keeps plant productivity low.
Date: January 1, 1977
Creator: Rickard, W. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Big game resource in the Powder River Basin Region, Montana--Wyoming

Description: The big-game resource in the Powder River Basin Area of Wyoming and Montana is an integral part of the environment. Historically, big-game animals have fared badly as man-induced regional landscape changes have favored domestic livestock and cultivated crops. The last stronghold of big-game animals is in the sparsely populated Western states. Large populations of pronghorned antelope, mule deer, and white-tailed deer reside in the Powder River Basin Area. The two major constraints that keep the present big-game populations in concert with the available range are severe winter weather and regulated hunter harvests. The annual hunter harvest of animals averages about 23,000 antelope and 60,000 deer. The probable effects of extensive coal mining in the region on big-game populations are postulated.
Date: July 1, 1977
Creator: Rickard, W. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Descriptions of plant communities at the proposed reference repository location and implications for reclamation of disturbed ground

Description: This report presents an ecological description of the natural vegetation in the Cold Creek Valley located in the west central portion of the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. The description includes plant species composition, canopy cover, and shrub density obtained from 10 study plots distributed in three habitat-types: sagebrush/Sandberg's bluegrass, spiny hopsage/Sandberg's bluegrass, and sagebrush/needle-and-thread grass. Of the relatively few species of shrubs and herbs in the Cold Creek Valley, the most abundant were sagebrush and spiny hopsage. The most abundant herbs were cheatgrass, Sandberg's bluegrass, and needle-and-thread grass. The amount of canopy cover provided by shrubs ranged between 7.4 and 33% in seven plots without a history of recent burning. Herbaceous plants in these same plots provided canopy cover that ranged between 18 and 41%. The three plots placed in areas with a recent history of burning had more herbaceous cover than did adjacent plots without a recent burn history. This was attributed to absence of living shrubs and freedom from competition for soil water and nutrients. There was less living herb cover in 1987 than in 1986 which is likely due to the lesser amount of growing season precipitation in 1987 (i.e. 10.3 cm vs 17.1 cm). Even with the absence of livestock grazing for 44 years, cheatgrass, an exotic annual generally provided more canopy cover than native perennial grasses. However, in the few places with good stands of Sandberg's bluegrass, cheatgrass was less abundant. 12 refs., 6 figs., 6 tabs.
Date: March 1, 1988
Creator: Rickard, W.H. & Schuler, C.A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Radionuclides in Canada goose eggs

Description: Low levels of radionuclides were measured in Canada goose eggs taken from deserted nests from Columbia River islands on the Energy Research and Development Administration's Hanford Reservation. Potassium-40, a naturally occurring radionuclide, was the most abundant radionuclide measured in egg contents and egg shell. Strontium-90 was incorporated into egg shells and cesium- 137 into inner egg contents. Manganese-54, cobalt-60, and zinc-65 were more abundant in inner egg contents than in egg shell. Cerium-144 was detected in egg shell but not in inner shell. (auth)
Date: January 1, 1975
Creator: Rickard, W.H. & Sweany, H.A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Restoration of surface-mined lands with rainfall harvesting

Description: Strip mining for coal in the arid western US will remove grazing land as energy demands are met. Conventional resotration usually includes leveling the spoil banks and covering them with top soil, fertilizing, seeding and irrigation with well or river water. An overview of research on an alternate method of restoring this land is reported. From 1976 through 1981 studies were conducted on the use of water harvesting, the collection and use of rainfall runoff, to restore the vegetative productivity of strip mined lands in arid regions. These studies tested the technical and economic feasibility of using partially leveled spoil banks at strip mines as catchment areas to collect and direct runoff to the topsoiled valley floor where crops were cultivated. Information was collected on the efficiency of seven treatments to increase runoff from the catchment areas and on the productivity of seven crops. The experiments were conducted in arid areas of Washington, Arizona, and Colorado. It was concluded that water harvesting can replace or augment expensive and inadequate supplies of well and river water in arid regions with a suitable climate. These studies showed that some treatments provided adequate runoff to produce a useful crop in the valleys, thus making this alternative approach to restoration technically feasible. This approach was also potentially economically feasible where the treatment costs of the catchment areas were low, the treatment was effective, the crop was productive and valuable, and earthmoving costs were lower than with conventional restoration involving complete leveling of spoil banks. It was also concluded that water harvesting can be made more effective with further information on catchment area treatments, which crops are most adaptable to water harvesting, the optimum incline of the catchment areas and climatic influences on water harvesting.
Date: December 1, 1982
Creator: Sauer, R.H. & Rickard, W.H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Chemical species of migrating radionuclides at commercial shallow land burial sites. Quarterly progress report, May-July, 1984

Description: The primary purposes of this project are to develop an understanding of chemical processes that significantly influence the migration of radionuclides at commercial low-level waste (LLW) burial sites and to evaluate ecological field sampling procedures for monitoring the performance of these sites. This project will produce information to support guidance for implementation of 10 CFR 61, particularly in the development of criteria for LLW disposal site selection, management, permanent closure, and monitoring. It will also produce information needed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as they finalize plans to stabilize, close, and monitor the Maxey Flats site. Significant current research results are reported for the following tasks: inorganic and organic radionuclide species chemical forms; subsurface migration and infiltration studies; specific radionuclide mapping at Maxey Flats and commercial shallow land burial sites; ecological monitoring at commercial shallow land burial sites; and technical program coordination for LLW research. 13 references, 4 figures, 1 table.
Date: August 1, 1984
Creator: Kirby, L.J. & Rickard, W.H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Ecological aspects of decommissioning and decontamination of facilities on the Hanford Reservation

Description: The Hanford environment and biota are described in relation to decommissioning of obsolescent facilities contaminated with low-levels of radioactive materials. The aridity at Hanford limits both the productivity and diversity of biota. Both productivity and diversity are increased when water is added, as for example on the margins of ponds. Certain plants, especially Salsola kali (Russian thistle or tumbleweed), are avid accumulators of minerals and will accumulate radioactive materials if their roots come into contact with contaminated soils. Data on concentration ratios (pCi per gDW of plant/pCi per gDW soil) are given for several native plants for long-lived radionuclides. Plants are generally more resistant than animals to ionizing radiation so that impacts of high-level radiation sources would be expected to occur primarily in the animals. Mammals and birds are discussed along with information on where they are to be found on the Reservation and what role they may play in the long-term management of radioactive wastes. Food habits of animals are discussed and plants which are palatable to common herbivores are listed. Food chains leading to man are shown to be very limited, including a soil-plant-mule deer-man path for terrestrial sites and a pond-waterfowl-man pathway for pond sites. Retention basins are discussed as an example of how an ecologically sound decommissioningprogram might be planned. Finally, burial of large volumes of low-level wastes can probably be done if barriers to biological invasion are provided.
Date: June 1, 1976
Creator: Rickard, W. H. & Klepper, E. L.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Hanford National Environmental Research Park (NERP): a descriptive summary of the site and site-related research programs, 1952--1977

Description: The Hanford National Environmental Research Park site is described in general terms and major plant communities and special habitats are discussed. Important bird, mammal, and fish populations are listed. Current research programs on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and radioecology are reviewed briefly. A list is included of some 100 publications that report results of research studies in detail.
Date: November 1, 1977
Creator: Vaughan, B. E. & Rickard, W. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Livestock forage and mineral relations on a shrub--steppe rangeland in northwestern United States. [ALE Reserve]

Description: The study area is the Arid Lands Ecology (ALE) Reserve, a portion of the United States Energy Research and Development Administration's Hanford Reservation located in the semi-arid region of south-central Washington. Small experimental pastures were subjected to four consecutive years of moderate spring grazing by yearling steers. These pastures are unique in that they represent grazing stresses on previously ungrazed (by livestock) plant communities. These communities had been protected from grazing by livestock for more than 30 years under ERDA management. Bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum) was the major forage plant in the diet of the steers during the 1974 grazing season, followed by Cusick's bluegrass (Poa cusickii), Thurber's needlegrass (Stipa thurberiania), and hawksbeard (Crepis atrabarba). These four species made up approximately 93 percent of the total diet. The forage intake ranged from 9.9 kg/head/day to 10.9 kg/head/day during the grazing season. During this period, these steers gained a total of 21.6 kg/ha. This study presents the food chain relationships of Ca and P, and crude protein uptake from plants and conversion to animal tissues, which are available to man. (CH)
Date: January 1, 1976
Creator: Uresk, D. W. & Rickard, W. H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Biological intrusion barriers for large-volume waste-disposal sites. [Rocks and chemical barriers, trifluralin beads]

Description: intrusion of plants and animals into shallow land burial sites with subsequent mobilization of toxic and radiotoxic materials has occured. Based on recent pathway modeling studies, such intrusions can contribute to the dose received by man. This paper describes past work on developing biological intrusion barrier systems for application to large volume waste site stabilization. State-of-the-art concepts employing rock and chemical barriers are discussed relative to long term serviceability and cost of application. The interaction of bio-intrusion barrier systems with other processes affecting trench cover stability are discussed to ensure that trench cover designs minimize the potential dose to man. 3 figures, 6 tables.
Date: January 1, 1982
Creator: Hakonson, T.E.; Cline, J.F. & Rickard, W.H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Bird associations with shrubsteppe plant communities at the proposed reference repository location in southeastern Washington

Description: This report provides information on te seasonal use of shrubsteppe vegetation by bird species at the RRL. Bird abundance and distribution were studied at the RRL to ensure that the DOE monitored migratory bird species pursuant to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and to assess potential impacts of site characterization activities on bird populations. Birds were counted on two transects that together sampled an areas of 1.39 km/sup 2/. The relative abundance of birds, species richness, seasonal distribution, and the association of breeding shrubsteppe birds with major vegetation types were determined from Janurary through December 1987. Only 38 species were counted during 82 surveys. Total bird density during the nesting season (March-June) was 42.96 birdskm/sup 2/ and the density for the entire year was 26.74 birdskm/sup 2/. The characteristic nesting birds in shrubsteppe habitats were western meadowlark, sage sparrow, burrowing owl, mourning dove, horned lark, long-billed curlew, lark sparrow, and loggerhead shrike. Western meadowlark and sage sparrows were the most abundant breeding birds with an average density of 11.25 and 7.76 birdskm/sup 2/, respectively. Seasonal distribution of birds varied with species, but most species were present from March to September. Distribution and abunandance of nesting birds were correlated with habitat type. About 63% of the habitat surveyed was sagebrush, 26% was cheatgrass, and 11% was spiny hopsage. Sagebrush habitat supproted a greeater total bird density than cheatgrass or hopsage habitats. Sage sparrows were closely associated with sagebrush habitats, while western meadowlarks showed no strong habitat affinities. 22 refs., 9 figs., 6 tabs
Date: March 1, 1988
Creator: Schuler, C.A.; Rickard, W.H. & Sargeant, G.A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Final Reclamation Report: Basalt Waste Isolation Project exploratory shaft site

Description: The restoration of areas disturbed by activities of the Basalt Waste Isolation Project (BWIP) constitutes a unique operation at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford Site, both from the standpoint of restoration objectives and the time frame for accomplishing these objectives. The BWIP reclamation program comprises three separate projects: borehole reclamation, Near Surface Test Facility (NSTF) reclamation, and Exploratory Shaft Facility (ESF) reclamation. The main focus of this report is on determining the success of the revegetation effort 1 year after work was completed. This report also provides a brief overview of the ESF reclamation program. 21 refs., 7 figs., 14 tabs.
Date: June 1, 1990
Creator: Brandt, C.A. & Rickard, W.H. Jr.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Radionuclides in a deciduous forest surrounding a shallow-land-burial site in the eastern United States

Description: The objective of this study was to determine if radioactive materials buried in trenches at the Maxey Flats burial ground in eastern Kentucky have migrated into the surrounding oak-hickory forest. Forest floor litter, minearl soil, and tree leaves were sampled and the radionuclide content measured. (ACR)
Date: June 1, 1981
Creator: Rickard, W.H.; Kirby, L.J. & McShane, M.C.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Chemical species of migrating radionuclides at commercial shallow land burial sites. Quarterly progress report, July-September 1983

Description: The primary purpose of this project is to develop an understanding of chemical processes that significantly influence the migration of radionuclides at commercial low-level waste burial sites. Chemical measurements of waste trench leachate and identification of chemical changes in leachate during migration will provide a basis for geochemical waste transport models. This project will produce for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) information to support guidance for implementation of 10 CFR 61, particularly in the development of criteria for low level waste disposal site selection, management, permanent closure and monitoring. This project will also produce information needed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as they finalize plans to stabilize, close and monitor the Maxey Flats site. Current research results are presented for the following tasks: (1) chemical forms inorganic and organic radionuclide species; (2) subsurface migration and infiltration studies; (3) specific radionuclide mapping at Maxey Flats and other commercial shallow land burial sites; (4) ecological monitoring at commercial shallow land burial sites; and (5) technical program coordination for low-level waste research. 17 references, 6 figures, 3 tables.
Date: November 1, 1983
Creator: Kirby, L.J.; Rickard, W.H. & Toste, A.P.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Tagging studies of mule deer fawns on the Hanford Site, 1969 to 1977

Description: From 1969 to 1977, 346 mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) fawns were tagged and released on islands and shoreline habitat associated with the Columbia River on the Hanford Site in south-central Washington. The purpose was to determine the movement of mule deer along the Columbia River shoreline from the Hanford Site through tag recovery. Twenty-one tagged deer have been killed primarily by hunters near the Hanford Site or on areas of the Hanford Site open to public access. Movements of up to 113 km from Hanford have been documented. Although the Columbia River at Hanford is one of the largest and most swift-flowing rivers in North America it is not an impassable barrier to mule deer. River islands are important and perhaps critical fawining habitat for the local deer herd. The selection of these islands by pregnant female deer is apparently influenced by predation, human access, and recreational use of islands. The number of fawns captured decreased during the latter years of the study (1974 to 1977). This is probably a reflection of an actual decrease in deer productivity, particularly along the upper stretch of the Columbia flowing through the Hanford Site. The reasons for this apparent decrease are unkown.
Date: October 1, 1979
Creator: Eberhardt, L.E.; Hedlund, J.D. & Rickard, W.H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Vascular plants of waste storage sites in the 200 areas of the Hanford reservation

Description: A brief accounting of terrestrial, riparian and semi-aquatic plants known to be associated with radioactive waste storage sites in the 200 Areas of the Hanford Reservation is given. In most cases the species are characteristic of those which generally inhabit the reservation, but some plants are restricted to specialized habitats provided by particular waste storage sites. It is impractical to list all species growing at each waste storage site because of seasonal variation and changes brought about by environmental management practices. An alpbabetical listing has been prepared with an example of where each species is known to occur. The list will be updated as needed and expanded to include other waste storage areas. Plant specimens were collected during spring and fall when flowering material was available. Herbarium mounts were prepared of many specimens and have been retained as part of the Hanford Reservation herbarium collection. Identification to species level was made whenever possible. Color photographs of the specimen mounts are used as training aids and demonstration material by ARHCO Radiation Monitoring personnel. (auth)
Date: December 1, 1973
Creator: Price, K.R. & Rickard, W.H.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Vegetation of steep slopes in the shrub-steppe region of south-central Washington

Description: This paper presents data and conclusions concerning the vegetation and soils of steep natural slopes of arid regions. Cover by species and soil physical and chemical properties were taken from 10 canyons along the Columbia River north of Pasco, Washington. Vegetative cover was significantly different and averaged 25 percent on the south-facing and 72 percent on the north-facing slopes. The mean number of species were significantly different. Four species were restricted to the south slopes, 10 were restricted to the north slopes, and 23 were common to both. Poa sandbergii and Agropyron spicatum, native perennial grasses, dominated the north-facing slopes and Bromus tectorum, an alien annual grass, dominated the south-facing slopes. Soils were shallower and rockier on the south-facing slopes. Even though vegetative cover and number of species were different, the similar number of dominant species suggest community functions are nonetheless similar in these contrasting environments.
Date: January 1, 1977
Creator: Sauer, R H & Rickard, W H
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Land rehabilitation research at Pacific Northwest Laboratories

Description: One of the major goals of rehabilitation of surface mined lands is to establish a self-sustaining vegetative cover. The cover should provide protection against wind and water erosion and provide forage for wildlife and livestock comparable to that of pre-mining conditions. Although livestock grazing has been practiced in the Western United States for more than a century there is a general paucity of information concerning the primary productivity of western rangelands. The productivity of sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass ecosystems was studied at the U. S. ERDA Hanford Reservation in South Central Washington. Here a stand of sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass vegetation was quantitatively sampled for four consecutive years, and results are reported from a controlled cattle grazing study to determine the ability of sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass communities to sustain moderate grazing pressure, and to measure weight gains of cattle. The effects of severe soil disturbances caused by plowing on native plant communities were also studied. The purpose of the restoration of surface mined lands conducted on the arid Hanford Reservation is to use modern machinery such as that used in removing the overburden from coal seams to create an environment that is more favorable to plant growth than conventional land leveling and topsoiling. The project consists of two parts: modifying the topography to accumulate precipitation (water harvest), and the placement of topsoil in sufficient depth to provide soil water storage and mineral nutrition to enable the growth of plants with greater productivity and higher economic value than those plants that can be cultivated under conventional land restoration practices.
Date: January 1, 1977
Creator: Rickard, W H & Sauer, R H
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department