Restoration and Reclamation

Pronghorns, Restoration in Oil and Gas Industry

Conservation Seeding and Restoration, Inc. is a success driven, applied action, native plant corporation operated as a for profit business enterprise. The unique nature of what we are and are trying to do can confuse many people. When we first started out we gave serious consideration as to what we would call ourselves. Today I would like to discuss the ‘R’ of CSR (last but not least): Restoration. The seemingly simple choice of this word provides guidance for decisions being made every day by our staff in field and office.

Restoration and Reclamation are commonly used synonymously (almost as the same word and concept). On the surface it is comfortable to use these two words interchangeably and without regard for the subtle differences in their meaning, but examination of the definitions informs a more precise word usage.

Reclamation: the process of reclaiming something from loss or from a less useful condition. It is generally used as in water reclamation, which, a century ago meant damming streams (US Bureau of Reclamation), and now has come to be used to describe wastewater reclamation.

The root word, reclaim, is a verb with the following definition:

  • to bring (uncultivated areas or wasteland) into a condition for cultivation or other use
  • to recover (substances) in a pure or usable form from refuse, discarded articles, etc.
  • to bring back to a preferable manner of living, sound principles, ideas, etc.
  • to tame
  • re-claim

Restoration: is a profession devoted to the preservation of cultural heritage for the future. Conservation activities include examination, documentation, treatment, and preventive care. All of this work is supported by research and education.

The root word, restore, is a verb with the following definition:

  • to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish: to restore order
  • to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, as a building, statue, or painting
  • to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor
  • to put back to a former place, or to a former position, rank, etc., to restore the king to his throne
  • to give back; make return or restitution of (anything taken away or lost)
  • to reproduce or reconstruct (an ancient building, extinct animal, etc.) in the original state

Salmon River Corridor Project, Idaho

I hope what you notice is that reclamation implies our desires and/or will forced upon the landscape with the intent to “tame”, or “reclaim from loss” the land or water, or what have you. Thus a “reclaimed” thing, be it a landscape, waterway, or corner desk, reflects our judgment of what is better. Restoration, however, goes immediately to the preservation of (in our case) land, water, and all parties heir – both understood and mysterious. Restoration implies working with a landscape, by means of stewardship, to promote its diverse and historic functions.

To take the idea one step further – in this paradigm conflict between restoration and reclamation, CSR Inc’s ideology thrives. As a profit-driven Restoration Company, CSR has brought opposing parties and seemingly opposing concepts to the table to engage in successful restoration processes. Ultimately, the concept of a singular or selfish approach to our land and water is (in my opinion) a process that has repeatedly demonstrated to be a failing endeavor. This is a very frustrating cycle and is a consistent result of implementing a reclamation strategy.

CSR, Inc approaches the needs of its clients with the understanding that there is a bigger picture. Understanding of the working systems we are a part of will ultimately achieve the goals and/or concerns of our clients, allow for the needs of the parties at play (even the ones we do not yet understand or recognize), and do so in a sustainable fashion.

Stream Restoration, Idaho

Restoration is also driven by human need and desire, especially in a ‘real-value’, for profit world. Our understanding of the resource in question (the Planet) creates value in the common good and allows for less selfish requests. We all play a part in the selfish endeavor to take without understanding the costs or consequences of our actions. As a society we have identified the need to maintain diversity in the landscape, but we are still greedy and take from the resource (The Planet) using ignorance as an excuse. Stewarding the land does not include Reclaiming a feature in a landscape but rather Restoring/Conserving all features and parties at play.

© 2013, Steven Paulsen. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. says

    Steven, Thanks for making that seemingly subtle but very important point about the differing “cultures” of reclamation versus restoration. I agree that reclamation implies we are imposing our vision on the land, and bending it to our will as it were. Restoration definitely can be a more cooperative effort, especially if it involves the sort of listening to the land and to those who come to it, and working to restore community health as opposed to any one participants vision. You’ve got me thinking, and I appreciate that! I’d love to see some of CSR’s work someday.
    Susan J. Tweit recently posted..Opening a vein

  2. says

    I love this line: “Ultimately, the concept of a singular or selfish approach to our land and water is (in my opinion) a process that has repeatedly demonstrated to be a failing endeavor.” That first pic reminds me of western Oklahoma–lots of natural gas storage tanks dotting ag and grazing fields. Of course, those tanks repel wildlife, but I digress.
    Benjamin Vogt recently posted..Farming Away Our Future


  1. […] Their caretakers were putting the final touches on the fence and posting signs alerting visitors about the electrified wires. We took advantage of the opportunity to ask the many questions that were popping into our heads about the unusual sight. Fortunately, they were eager to supply information about the use of goats in the restoration program. Until now, I knew goats as invasive species that can damage ecosystems, primarily on islands. I knew about the efforts to get rid of these unwelcome pests on the Galapagos and on Catalina Island, California. I was pleased to learn that they can also be used for ecological restoration. […]

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