© U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program)

Material Needs Assessment

Estimating annual well pad seed demand

BLM’s Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (CPNPP) used 2017 well pad gis layers and Field Office input to conservatively estimate seed demand for well pad reclamation in four energy states: UT, CO, NM, WY.  

Photo:  Aerial view of a northwest Colorado drilling field.  Each small white square is a well pad.  

Well pads may be seeded a few separate times including: during interim reclamation, when most of the area cleared for drilling need not be kept cleared; if interim or final reclamation seeding needs to be repeated, for example after herbicide treatment; and during final reclamation, after the well is plugged and abandoned and top soil has been re-spread. 

Photo:  Recently seeded pad in Tres Rios Field Office.

The table below shows estimated annual seed needs and seed cost for well pads only in four states: over $5,200,000 and about 350,000 pounds.  Note - these numbers are extremely conservative, because estimates do not include roads, pipelines, other development, habitat restoration or post-fire seeding.  Cost does not include labor and equipment for seeding.  Seed cost and demand to meet all needs would be much greater.

Seed is just one part of the reclamation process, but seed mix choices influence the pad’s future vegetation, wildlife & livestock forage, habitat for all other species, and ecosystem services.  Good reclamation choices, e.g. locally adapted and genetically diverse native seed sources, provide a foundation for the future plant community and ecological processes.

Photo:  Vernal Field Office well pad 10 years after final reclamation seeding; Adrienne Pilmanis of BLM shows Anadarko staff signs of cyanobacteria colonization (early biological soil crust development).

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