Restoring Hydrology in Big Cypress National Preserve
The Big Cypress swamp has an enormous impact on the hydrology of southwest Florida and is essential to the health of the nearby Everglades. The National Preserve protects ¾ of a million acres of tropical and temperate plant communities, and is home to diverse wildlife, including the Florida panther. However, years of construction activity in the form of drainage ditches, infill, and canals have greatly compromised the hydrology of the area. Biohabitats is proud to be working to restore the natural marsh and ecosystem functions within the Preserve. Our most recent project involved the restoration of a 13-acre site along US 41. This site was first used as a source for materials for the construction of US 41, and was subsequently filled and converted into a campground. Over recent months, we have removed thousands of cubic yards of fill material in order to restore historic marsh hydrology. Careful excavation by the Biohabitats team has assured that the water depth is now ideal for supporting emergent wetland plants and the associated biota that depend upon them.
Urban Stream Restoration in Maryland
Towson Run Tributary Restoration
Towson Run Tributary at Cloisters is the latest in a series of successful stream restoration designs that Biohabitats has realized with Baltimore County (Maryland) Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability. This tributary network, which runs through the campuses of a university and a behavior health facility, receives drainage from predominantly developed areas. With so much stormwater runoff to the tributary system, it has become disconnected from its historical floodplain resulting in bank erosion, sediment yield and diminished water quality. Biohabitats is conducting a biological assessment of the tributary network, and completing of the design and permitting of the restoration plan. We will provide construction oversight for the. Restoring the Towson Run tributary will re-establish stable, long-term channel geometry, improve water quality and enhance aquatic and riparian habitat.
Crofton Stream Restoration
Fast flowing stormwater had degraded the Crofton tributary in the Little Patuxent watershed in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Biohabitats’ restoration design, which aimed to reduce erosion and improve habitat, was implemented through a two-stage construction process that unfolded over the last year. As construction neared completion, we were happy to join local middle schoolers in planting native plants along the newly restored channel and floodplain. The involvement of students in Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works’ restoration projects is facilitated by the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center, which grew and supplied the native plants.
Creating a Vision for an Extraordinary Place
Biohabitats has been fortunate to work with the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York. With a mission to awaken the best in the human spirit through educational experiences, the institute considers sustainability as one of its core values. When they began a master planning process for their network of facilities, they asked Biohabitats to help.
Last month, we began the field portion of the planning work, assessing the existing natural resources on campus and beginning to develop restoration and management recommendations. This phase also includes an opportunity we do not always have with clients: developing a full ecological and social context. We are working with the Institute staff to create a vision for the property based on the way people are connected to the natural systems on site. This process brings in regional ecology and history to reveal the multifaceted context of the site. It also includes a desktop assessment of potential regional wildlife corridors, connections, and greenways. Such a conscientious approach to the broader context of a planning or restoration brings out the best in our staff. And their biggest smiles.
Regenerating Biodiversity in Portland, OR
Clean Water Services (CWS), an Oregon utility service, is working with Biohabitats to restore a rich mosaic of riparian wetlands within the Tualatin River floodplain associated with the Forest Grove Wastewater Treatment facility. The wetlands will primarily serve to regenerate the complex systems of life and nutrients that exist in healthy waters while simultaneously reducing the temperature of water flowing into the Tualatin River. These wetlands will further enhance the diversity of habitat for shorebirds, waterfowl and resident birds alike, making this a world class destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts of all ages. Our work on designing and restoring the wetlands is just beginning, but together we are making a long-term investment in the health and resilience of the Tualatin River.
Not far away in downtown Portland, American Assets Trust, L.P. is redeveloping a mixed use super block in the Lloyd EcoDistrict. Biohabitats has been contracted to lead a pioneering wastewater system that will collect, treat, and reuse wastewater onsite. Ecologically based urban infrastructure adds resilience to the project while treating waste as valuable nutrients for reuse.
In Washington County, Oregon, where Nike Corporation is continuing to develop their corporate campus, Biohabitats has been asked to assist with designing wastewater infrastructure for two new office buildings.
Biohabitats is leading one of the three featured field trips at the Society of Conservation Biology’s biennial conference in Baltimore July 21-25. We’ll lead a group to learn about the floating wetlands in front of Baltimore’s World Trade Center in the Inner Harbor. The conference is the leading meeting of conservation professionals and students, attracting over 1500 conservation-minded attendees.
Biohabitats will be participating in the 5th National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER), which is being held just outside Chicago from July 29 to 31. NCER is an interdisciplinary conference on large scale ecosystem restoration, and is important for bringing together practitioners of actual restoration projects. The conference, which was originated by University of Florida, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, attracts over a thousand planners, engineers, and decision makers from across the country. Terry Doss will moderate a panel on Restoring Streams and Rivers in an Urban Environment, and Joe Berg will participate on a panel discussion on the concept of Novel Ecosystems.
At the annual Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting, Joe Berg will present on the values of using historic geomorphic condition as a natural analog for stream restoration. The meeting is in Minneapolis this year, from August 4-9. Joe’s role with ESA extends beyond participation in the annual conference: he is the secretary elect for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter.
StormCon, which competes with Game On (below) for the best conference name of the year, brings together active stormwater professionals from across the country, and is being held this year just up the coast from our Charleston office in Myrtle Beach, SC, from August 20-22. It includes several sessions on the work we do, such as BMPs, Green Infrastructure, and erosion Control. Keith Bowers is planning to attend.
At Game On: Green Sports Summit, sustainability specialists present to about 500 sports industry members about topics from reducing waste in college sports to providing better food at stadiums. Biohabitat’s Pete Munoz will be sharing his expertise on water management at stadiums such as the Omnilife in Mexico in a panel on innovative strategies in water conservation.
The Northeast Beaches Conference is the annual NE chapter meeting of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, and represents members from coastal states from Maine to New Jersey. The association brings together professionals to provide a technical basis for solving erosion problems and other coastal challenges. from which solutions to erosion can be found. Terry Doss will represent Biohabitats at the meeting in Galloway NJ, from September 9–11.
Our new team leader of the Great Lakes Bioregion brings a wealth of experience in the management of water resources to Biohabitats. He has worked extensively with some of the less pliable materials of our profession: community groups, elected officials, and state employees. In his previous position, he worked with Biohabitats enough to develop a respect for the passion and focus of our staff. When an opening was available, he eagerly took the opportunity to participate in our innovative approach, and especially looks forward to furthering his contributions to the conservation and restoration of the Lake Erie ecosystem. When not sailing Trystin, his recently restored 26′ Seafarer Meridian on Lake Erie, Tom, who went to college initially on a music theory scholarship, busies himself singing classical and liturgical choral pieces. His most recent performance was a joint concert of Haydn with the Case Concert Choir.
Though he’s relatively certain that the journey rather than the destination is what brings happiness, Brett is today realizing career goals that were firmly rooted in his childhood. Water resource engineering has allowed him to play a role in protecting the natural systems he has always enjoyed while hiking, hunting, and camping. This is not to say that his journey has been without perils. He has racked up an impressive 7 broken bones skateboarding and in other sports and outdoor activities, most recently on a fishing trip to the Smokies, where he broke his elbow while flyfishing alone (and learned to take a partner to remote areas). He is eager to join Biohabitats’ work on stream restoration and watershed planning, and also hopes to continue his recent progress at tying saltwater poppers, which are flies that imitate baitfish breaking the surface.
Chris joins Biohabitats most recently from Blountville, Tennessee, where he worked with Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a GIS technician. Originally from Salisbury, Maryland, he spent enough time in TN for his three dogs to get spoiled by constant trips to the mountains, but fortunately not long enough to compromise his diehard support for the Ravens. Though he never realized his childhood ambition of becoming a professional stormchaser, he is happy to bring his GIS and Geography skills to Biohabitats, where he has wanted to work for years. In his new position, he will be supporting various projects with spatial analysis and mapping tools.
Our newest landscape designer, working out of Denver, is eager to help create designs that heal the earth and involve people in the process. Andi grew up in a small town in SE Colorado, originally thinking to join the family trade of farming. She sees her current work as firmly in line with the farming tradition of planting and tending plants, along with caring for the earth. Even the apartments she has occupied in Denver tend to become greener over time due to her propensity to exit all greenhouse nurseries with at least one plant in hand. At Biohabitats, her ambitions focus on broadening her design experience and sneaking a living wall into the Denver office. Outside of the office, she spends as much time as she can outdoors, as well as volunteering with refugee children from Myanmar (Burma) and watching her nephew approach his first birthday.