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Brandon Williams, MSc Student, Thompson Rivers University

Biography:

Brandon Williams is a learning biologist and ecologist committed to research in restoration and reclamation that aims to push the boundaries of this work to leave behind a legacy of healthy ecosystems. He is a self-motivated individual with a global vision that has the capacity to lead others and think creatively to solve problems. His passion for restoration and reclamation began during his time working with an environmental consulting company in Edmonton, AB. During this time, he was responsible for providing oversight to contractors on environmental policy surrounding wetlands of the province. Brandon is also an avid fly fisherman, fly tyer, and amateur lake entomologist in love with freshwater ecology.

Project: Prescribed burning as a tool to shift a reclaimed tailings storage facility dominated by agronomic grass to a native plant community

Mine reclamation and closure plans have historically focused on returning disturbed lands to a vegetative community, often without consideration of the pre-existing natural vegetation, resulting in sites dominated by non-native agronomic species. Regulatory standards and community stakeholders now place more value on ecosystem function and native biodiversity. Once established, agronomic grass communities often dominate and restrict native species, leaving little hope for successional advancement. Fire naturally structures grasslands by altering successional trajectories and has historically been utilized by Indigenous communities. We tested the effects of prescribed burning in a closed tailings storage facility as a means of shifting an agronomic community to a native grassland. Our objectives are to test the effects of burning and provide insight into the use of traditional Indigenous knowledge to accelerate ecosystem recovery on disturbed mine lands.