From Open Energy Information

Geothermal Vegetation

Present, Potentially Affected

Vegetation refers to the plant ground cover in a biota. Not only does vegetation impact soil volume, chemistry, texture, and density, but also wildlife food source. Certified botanists conduct surveys prior to geothermal development to assess the lasting affects of vegetation loss even if the duration of the project is short.

Vegetation Impacts & Mitigation

Geothermal construction and land maintenance activities require vegetation removal for surface disturbance. Typical impacts and mitigation measures include the following:


  • Interim reclamation begins after drilling and well flow testing has been completed. To reduce erosion and unstable land, conduct shaping, contouring, and revegetation.
  • Seeding occurs between October-December to prepare for grass and forb species. Shrub species will be seeded separately during the winter. Seeding is prohibited from May 15 to September 15. On Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed lands, use weed free seeds, soil, and mulch. To reduce soil impacts, use drill and broadcast seeding followed by disking or harrowing.
  • Native plants require the least amount of maintenance and mitigate invasive plant and animal species.
  • Well pads and access roads reclamation occur when exploration or utilization not needed anymore. It is possible for interim reclamation to occur if other well pads are in operation.
  • All wells dormant for more than a year will be capped and abandoned. The final reclamation mitigation measures will be completed within six months.
  • Reclamation would be performed in accordance with lease stipulations.
  • Reseeding would not be undertaken in areas where soil conditions are inappropriate or where the adjacent undisturbed land surface has little or no vegetation, as determined in coordination with a qualified biologist. Native soil material and organic matter (topsoil) salvaged from the site preparation operations would be reused as a topdressing on berms and other areas requiring revegetation to the extent If any well will be sitting idle for longer than one year, the well pad shall be scarified and seeded with the recommended seed mix.
  • Weed management and concurrent reclamation would minimize the spread of invasive, nonnative species and would prevent residual impacts to vegetation


  • Save and store topsoils on an approved site in stockpiles for reclamation use. In moist, clay soils, removing topsoils and vegetation decreases soil compaction during construction.
  • Stockpiles are not to exceed two feet in height to promote healthy ecosystems for organisms living in the soil. Cover the piles to mitigate wind erosion. Contour the stockpiles when placed atop filled areas during reclamation to allow restoration to occur.
  • Park all equipment and construction vehicles in areas with significantly less vegetation than the rest of the site.

Reserve Pits:

  • To mitigate swampy vegetation habitats, maintain the water level of the reserve pits below rooted vegetation. This will also mitigate unwanted insects. Line the channel where discharge water flows into the reserve pit with crushed rock or horizontal piping to encourage aquatic vegetation, but discourage sediment.