Sawgrass Reclamation

Home Sawgrass Reclamation Fact or Fear Flambeau Mine Restoration Educational Resources Mining Machines at Work More Success Stories Photos Luscar Mine Canada Mining Trvia Common Minerals Action Alerts Environmental Opinon’s Talking Points Stay Out – Stay Alive

Sawgrass Reclamation

National Mined Land
Reclamation Award – Non Coal
Presented to
Cargill Fertilizer, Inc.
Hookers Prairie – Sawgrass Reclamation

Cargill Fertilizer
Cargill Fertilizer is a major producer of phosphate for fertilizer in Florida, the state that supplies three-fourths of the U.S. requirement of this essential agricultural mineral and one-fourth of what’s needed to better feed the world. Cargill operates three phosphate mines at Hookers Prairie, Fort Meade and South Fort Meade in Polk and Hardee counties in central Florida.

Photo’s shown here are a series of pictures taken that show various steps during the mining process progressing to the end result. They clearly show what a fine job Cargill accomplished in reclaiming land and returning it to Mother Nature

A Cargill Mine
A typical woods and wetlands vista marks the approach to the South Fort Meade mining site, where P&H MinePro Services was engaged in rebuilding a big Cargill walking dragline. The mine is a 27,000-acre development

Protecting the Waters
A P&H dragline uncovers rich phosphate deposits at South Fort Meade while a canal of water guards the adjoining woods and wetlands. The “recharge ditch”, which totally surrounds the mine site, keeps the wetlands water at proper level. If the level drops, more water is pumped into the canal.

Monitoring Water Level

Cargill’s Denny Tucker, Assistant Mining Superintendent, checks a South Fort Meade monitoring well to make sure the correct wetlands water level is being maintained. Miles of pipes snake across the mining area, where 55-60 million gallons of water are used and reclaimed daily in round-the-clock mining operations.


Florida’s Fossil History
Fossils from the past, sharks’ teeth are a common “by-product” of phosphate mining in Florida, once a totally submerged area. Fossils ranging from five to twelve million years old have been found in central Florida.


Before Reclamation
What remains at the mine site shortly after phosphate mining activity is a leftover landscape of water and sand and clay banks, like this one at Hookers Prairie.


Reclamation Begins
As one of the first steps in the reclamation process, Cargill has smoothed out the piles of excavated sand and clay into the land’s original flat contour. Water will soon seep back to form ponds to once again host aquatic life. Before mining begins, Cargill takes precise elevation readings to assure proper restoration.


Plantlife Resumes
With the Cargill processing plant faintly visible in the background, re-introduced pickleweed, rushes and sawgrass thrive as key wetlands growths at Hookers Prairie. Not so key is the cattail, regarded as a nuisance plant which is intentionally removed by special crews.


Clear, Clean Waters
Baby alligators — 3-4 feet long — loll in a restored water pool. Native to Florida, the gators just naturally find their new homes in the pure waters of the reclaimed site.


Reclamation Completed
A healthy sawgrass stand at Hookers Prairie attests to a national award Cargill received for outstanding reclamation in successfully replanting this native flora in a mined-over area. The sawgrass admirers are Cargill environmental supervisors, Debra Waters and Billy Wise.


A Sign of Success
This sign identifies a fully reclaimed wetlands area at Cargill’s Hookers Prairie operation — water and marsh grasses that welcome a wide variety of birds and aquatic life.


The Cargill Award
A coveted citation from the National Association of State Land Reclamationists was presented to Cargill in 1996 for Hookers Prairie Sawgrass Reclamation — the first wetlands reclamation to effectively establish sawgrass in a man-made marsh.


The “Gator” State
Remember those baby alligators a while back? Look closely in the middle of this scene and you’ll spot mom or pop alligator — looking like a log — on a Cargill pond. The full-grown reptiles are tolerated and protected unless they become pesky, in which case they are humanely apprehended and relocated.


Protected Species
An Osprey nests safely and contently on a pole-platform set up by Cargill environmentalists to replace the bird’s former hazardous perch atop the power line installation at the right. Birds are a precious commodity in eco-sensitive Florida, especially the endangered American Bald Eagle. No mining activity can take place within 1,500 feet of an eagle’s roost during nesting season and 750 feet out of season.

Preserving Florida’s Wildlife
Like the P&H MinePro Services technicians, anyone setting foot on a Cargill mine site in Florida undergoes a briefing on wildlife preservation and this sticker serves as a “graduation” certificate.

Cargill has reclaimed more than 7,700 acres of mined land throughout Polk and Hardee counties in central Florida.