The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

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Reclaiming an iconic pasture

KILLINGTON- A unique recycling method has proven highly effective at restoring Craig Mosher's property located at the east entrance of Killington along the river. His field was washed away by Tropical Storm flooding over a year ago, the topsoil replaced with rocks and silt.

Mosher, a long time resident and owner of Mosher Excavating, founded in 1979, had his hands full digging out neighbors and friends in the months after the storm, so he didn't focus on reclaiming his own pasture and meadow until this summer.

"I see many visitors stop to take pictures here, the animals and pasture and river make for a nice Vermont scene and it has become somewhat of a landmark for the [east] entrance… it's a reason for folks to stop and take a breath," said Mosher. "I look forward to letting Big and Rob graze here again," he added, referring to his two Scottish Highlander bulls.

Indeed his pictorial landscape is quintessentially Vermont. Mosher's two Highlanders shared this field with two sheep, Byron and Jessie, and Pedro, the donkey before the storm.

After hearing about Mosher's loss, Resource Management, Inc. (RMI), of Holderness, New Hampshire, approached him with an innovative idea for restoring his field using manufactured topsoil. RMI has been manufacturing topsoil since 1995 for use in disturbed land reclamation projects. They call it NutraSoil and it holds better than topsoil on slopes or by riverbanks, Mosher explains, saying, "It holds where topsoil would erode."

NutraSoil is made combining sand and biosolids. Part of this mixture also includes paper waste (mostly glossy magazines) that cannot be recycled due the clay material used in the glossy finish.

"They provided the paper and biosolids; I provided the sand and my time," Mosher explained of the partnership. "It's expensive to be green, but it's not productive to strip productive land of its topsoil… I'm a conservationist at the core," he added.

RMI shares Mosher's commitment to environmental responsibility by serving as an organic waste, residuals management and recycling company specializing in innovative soil-based recycling solutions.

Charley Hanson, co-owner of RMI, says "It takes 500 years to make an inch of topsoil [in nature]; it takes us five hours." The combination of organic matter, paper fiber and biosolids is a very nutritional combination, "it jump-starts the soil ecosystem… just like starting compost," he adds.

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RMI is a commercial size operation that most commonly uses its manufactured topsoil for gravel pit reclamation projects or wetland restoration. Since Irene, however, they "have been looking for places to help," Hanson says.

RMI committed to donating up to 10,000 cubic yards of erosion-resistant topsoil to the rebuilding efforts after Tropical Storm Irene.
"We are pleased to support our community and help speed the rebuilding efforts by donating NutraSoil," said Shelagh Connelly, president of RMI in their fall 2012 newsletter. "This donation is in keeping with RMI's tradition of community support; in 2008 we donated topsoil to help restore farm fields after the Alstead floods of 2006."

In late September, just over a week after planting grass seed in the manufactured topsoil, newly sprouted grass shoots covered Mosher's pasture. By next summer, Mosher expects the animals will be back to grazing on their preferred patches and visitors will once again be greeted by this iconic pastoral scene.