Utne Blogs > Environment

Industrial Strength Wildlife Habitats

by Elizabeth Ryan 

Tags: Environment, wildlife, habitats, industrial sites, E magazine, Elizabeth Ryan,













Not all abandoned factories and lots are going to waste. Christopher Weber reports in E magazine on projects underway that are designed to transform abandoned urban industrial sites into vibrant ecological habitats. He says scientists who’ve studied the sites are discovering many have key ecological connections, such as being located beneath to major flyways of migratory birds, or housing specific species of wildlife. Weber also highlights this particular rehabilitation success story:

One of the most spectacular—and unlikely—examples of industrial habitat can be found in Denver at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Beginning in 1942, the arsenal produced nerve gas and other chemical weapons for the U.S. Army. By the time it time it closed in 1992, these 27 square miles had become one of the nation’s most poisonous landscapes.

Today, the reclamation process is almost complete. Just 11 miles from downtown Denver, the old arsenal draws scads of tourists. The stars of the show are two wobbly, cinnamon-toned bison calves born this summer. They brought the self-sustaining bison herd to 29 animals; managers expect it [to] reach 200 some day. “We’ve restored their habitat back to short-grass prairie, the way it looked in the late 1800s,” says Sherry James, visitor services manager for the refuge. “The fact that we’ve cleaned up the arsenal to the point that we can reintroduce bison—and they’re thriving—that’s amazing.”

Source: E magazine

Image by kodiax2, licensed under Creative Commons.