Strategies for restoration and reclamation are very much akin to the design strategies for earthwork, as well as the design fundamentals of repeating form, line, color, and texture and reducing unnecessary disturbance. The objectives of restoration and reclamation include reducing long-term visual impacts by decreasing the amount of disturbed area and blending the disturbed area into the natural environment while still providing for project operations.

Though restoration and reclamation are a separate part of project design, they should not be forgotten or ignored. It is always a good idea to require a restoration/reclamation plan as part of the original design package. All areas of disturbance that are not needed for operation and maintenance should be restored as closely as possible to previous conditions.

Several strategies that can enhance any restoration or reclamation effort include:

  • Striping, saving, and replacing topsoil (6-inch surface layer) on disturbed earth surfaces.
  • Enhancing vegetation by:
    • Mulching cleared areas
    • Furrowing slopes.
    • Using planting holes on cut/fill slopes to retain water.
    • Choosing native plant species.
    • Fertilizing, mulching, and watering vegetation.
    • Replacing soil, brush, rocks, forest debris, etc., over disturbed earth surfaces when appropriate, thus allowing for natural regeneration rather than introducing an unnatural looking grass cover.
  • Minimizing the number of structures and combining different activities in one structure wherever possible.

Following are some examples of successful restoration or reclamation efforts:

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The technique of recontouring disturbed areas and then “roughening” the surface to trap water hastens the regrowth of vegetation. Replacement of native rock and other natural debris also helps blend the disturbed area with the adjacent landscape.


Successful restoration of a project leaves little or no visual scarring.


The replacement of the large rocks in this pipeline right-of-way creates a natural-looking environment.
This natural gas facility has been successfully restored by reducing the disturbed area, blending/terracing the landform to reflect existing forms, planting grasses and forbs on the disturbed area, and selecting colors that blend with the colors found in the landscape.