College students in northern California learned about restoring the environment by participating in a special field trip to Cemex USA’s retired Olympia Quarry near Santa Cruz, Calif.
About 25 students from a Restoration and Ecology class from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) toured the site in January to discover the reclamation efforts underway at the facility. Reclamation at the Olympia Quarry began in 2005 after the facility closed. Crews from Cemex and Jodi McGraw Consulting are currently restoring native vegetation and endangered species habitat to the site.
“The reclamation is part of a plan to help some of the endangered species in the area,” said Debbie Haldeman, Cemex’s regional natural resources manager in northern California and Nevada. “This will help revive the ecosystem and teaching college students about what’s being done, will help them give back to the community in the future.”
Crews are removing invasive plant species like the Portuguese broom and silver wattle. They are also replanting vegetation native to the Santa Cruz Sandhills Mountains. The project is aimed at replenishing the natural beauty of the land, but also to provide habitats for two endangered species, the Zayante band-winged grasshopper and the Mount Herman June beetle.
“Northern California is a special place, and we want to make sure it continues to be vibrant,” Cemex USA West Region President Eric Wittman said. “Reclamation projects like this show just how much Cemex cares about sustainability and conserving the land where we live and work.”
The UCSC students learned of the mining operations that happened at the Olympia site for more than 80 years. Cemex is closely following the requirements of SMARA, California’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Act. Cemex hopes to host more students for these types of projects in the future.