Ontario Construction News staff writer
Algoma Steel has partnered with Sault College on a site-greening initiative that will include a team of forest technician and conservation program students.
Students will plant 2,000 seedlings on the wind berm along the St. Mary’s River, a 2.2-acre stretch that buffers the wind from the coal piles. A mix of red oak, eastern white cedar, jack pine, white pine, red pine, white spruce, and willow seedlings are being introduced to the area where biosolids were previously placed to augment soil and facilitate the propagation of ground cover.
“Through close collaboration with our outstanding partners at Sault College, Algoma’s planned site-greening is moving quickly from concept to reality. The program has benefited greatly from the college’s expertise in reforestation and the engagement of students who can actively track and experience this important initiative,” said Algoma’s Chief Executive Officer Michael D. Garcia commented. “This project is building an innovative ‘living lab’ to augment the student’s education and provide valuable, real-life experience that they can carry with them into their future careers.”
Sault College students helped Algoma create a comprehensive site-greening plan for the 120-year-old steelworks. To build naturalized green buffer strips along the perimeter of the site, by introducing soils, creating seasonal surface water ponding areas, and vegetating with select native plants and tree species.
“The collaboration between Sault College and Algoma provides our students an experiential learning opportunity that allowed them to see their efforts, from seed stratification to sowing to tending to the subsequent planting of the seedlings, come full circle,” said Adam Hodgson, Natural Environment Professor. “Algoma’s site greening Initiative is an industry leading example of a long-term commitment to improving the overall environment in and around the steel plant.
The program helps students to learn about industrial steelmaking and see first-hand the importance of the initiative.
“The growing and planting of these seedlings will contribute to the creation of resilient, biologically diverse green mosaics enhancing the quality of water runoff while also capturing and reducing the local effects of airborne dust particles,” Hodgson said. “The benefits are far reaching, and this was truly an unforgettable experience for the students.”