Jon is investigating the relationship between soil texture and the concentration of woody plants and perennial bunch grasses on oil well pad reclamation sites in Wyoming’s sagebrush steppe. Soil texture is an important factor in soil water storage, because it affects water movement speed through soil. In dry areas, where water is scarce, soil texture may play an even more important role in determining which plants are able to uptake this water. Oil well pad development removes all vegetation from a site, and after use for oil production, the site is reclaimed through plantings of native plants. Jon will use computer simulations to determine if soil texture is affecting the reclamation efforts on these well pads. Failed well pad reclamation can cost up to $20,000, so supporting successful well pad reclamation could result in more efficient use of funds and increase establishment of native plants on well pad sites.
Jon Michel, Land Management Field Practicum Participant and Western Resources Fellow | Jon is an undergraduate at Yale College from Wooster, Ohio, pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Studies. He’s interested in dryland ecosystems as well as the effects of climate change on natural systems, and the role that computer simulations can play in quantifying these effects. In the future, he hopes to work in conservation or environmental management in the West. Jon is an avid skier and hiker in his free time. See what Jon has been up to. | Blog