From planning to completion, your chapter should document the entire reclamation process. Your successes, and oversights, will provide valuable lessons for other groups that are following in your path. Your records will also provide a complete history of the project that will be useful to reporters, students, new partners, and potential donors.
Throughout the project’s duration, you may also have to report on your progress to foundations, state agencies, and federal authorities. Careful documentation will allow you to prepare these reports in a concise and convincing manner and increase your credibility with partnering organizations. Your documentation will also provide material for outreach programs and supplemental grant opportunities.
Photos are important part of the documentation process. Pictures of the mine site before the reclamation project will become important historical documents, including tailings piles, stream channels, mine openings, vegetation (or lack thereof), and any other important features. When compared to these photos, the reclaimed site should be convincing proof of the project’s success.
Probably the most important documentation will be the data from your monitoring plan. Whether you are monitoring water quality, aquatic macroinvertebrates, or some other indicator, your results will provide a wealth of useful information if they are recorded in a standardized manner. It is imperative that you document the methods and types of analysis used and that your records are clear and well organized. Although it may take several years for your project to result in water quality improvements, your data will help you and other evaluate the success of the project, as well as the remediation technologies employed.
Other sources of documentation may include the volume of contaminated materials removed, the number of site reclaimed, or the budget variance. In any case, try to include anything related to the project that will help others figure out why certain decision were made and whether those decisions were the right ones.