A sand-and-gravel company wins for reclamation

R.E. Postill & Sons was one of five B.C. mines recognized for their reclamation achievements in September 2012

by Karen Kornelsen

At the annual B.C. Mine Reclamation Awards banquet in September 2012, five B.C. mines were recognized by the British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation for their outstanding achievements in reclamation. R.E. Postill & Sons was one of them.

R.E. Postill & Sons, which is operated by Linsey Postill Johannson and her husband, Jamie Johannson, won the Aggregate Reclamation Award; Coldstream Ranch Ltd., the company that owns the land, was also named as a recipient. The award was in recognition of the excellent reclamation work at the Rosebush Pit sand-and-gravel operation near Vernon, B.C. Reclamation practices at the Rosebush Pit centred on returning mined areas to useful agricultural land. Reclaimed areas have shown successful growth of grass, alfalfa and hay crops.

R.E. Postill & Sons Ltd. is a fourth-generation family-owned and -operated business in the district of Coldstream, near Vernon. It was started by Linsey’s great-grandfather, Russell Eugene Postill, in 1944. The company employs 17 people, many of whom have worked there for their entire careers and for three generations of Postills.

Carefully returned to nature 

Mining commenced in the Rosebush Pit in the 1970s and has covered an area of approximately 60 hectares. To date, 40 hectares have been reclaimed. As the gravel is extracted, clean quality fill is brought into the pit to bring it back up to grade and then topped with native topsoil.

"This reclamation improves the land for farming in three ways: increasing water retention, leaving the pasture in a more farmable grade, and providing more consistent topsoil coverage," said Linsey. "The Coldstream Ranch does the final preparations, by adding manure and preparing and planting the crops. The land is currently planted by the Coldstream Ranch—with grass, alfalfa mix and corn harvested for hay and silage—and also used as pasture for horses and cows."

Through this reclamation process, Linsey said, they have improved the land from Class 4 Agricultural Land to Class 2 Agricultural Land, improving the production and sustainability of the land for future agricultural uses.

Reclaiming as they go

Reclamation for R.E. Postill & Sons is an ongoing project. The pit has about a 20-hectare opening, and once the crew is finished with one area, they reclaim the land they just used and move on to the next. The gravel from the pit is made into various products and is used by the City of Vernon, the District of Coldstream and the Ministry of Transportation. R.E. Postill & Sons has specialty products as well.

"We replace all areas with clean quality fill from job sites around Vernon and area," said Linsey. "The fill is brought in and we use loaders and dozers to level and reclaim the affected areas. The clay is placed at a minimum depth of two feet, although in some areas it is well over 15 feet. This helps with water retention for the pastures. Once a level and consistent grade is reached, 12 inches to 18 inches of topsoil is placed on top of the fill and then levelled. The Coldstream Ranch takes over from here, grading and preparing the soil, adding manure and then planting their crops."

Meaningful recognition

Linsey, who is a fourth-generation Postill, bought the business from her dad in 2011 and she said she couldn't be more thrilled with receiving the award.

"We're trying to do a really good job protecting the environment and increasing the agricultural value of the land," she said. "The nomination from our mine inspector made us incredibly happy, and then to win the award made us really proud and gave us the validation that we are doing a good job."

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