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Biohabitats Projects, Places, and People

Find out why Biohabitats is making national and local headlines. Plus, learn about upcoming conferences, recent Biohabitats projects and new members of our team.


By Amy Nelson

Article Index


A Great Lakes Area of Concern Moves Toward Delisting

Muskegon Lake is a 4,149-acre inland coastal lake located along the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan and separated from it by sand dunes. The Lake has suffered water quality and habitat problems associated with the historical discharge of pollutants. Because of the potential adverse effect of those pollutants on Lake Michigan, Muskegon Lake was designated an Area of Concern (AOC) by the EPA in 1985, under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Recently, it became one of the first AOC contaminated sites to be remediated by the EPA. In an effort to help the U.S. EPA re-establish beneficial uses to this AOC and delist it as an AOC, the EPA has engaged Biohabitats to develop an ecological restoration master plan for the Muskegon Lake shoreline and nearby Ruddiman Creek and Lagoon. Our goal is to address habitat-related beneficial use impairments through ecological restoration. We’re proud to help the EPA further its goal of delisting the Muskegon AOC.

Maryland State Highway Administration Selects Biohabitats For Statewide Stream Restoration Services

Biohabitats was recently selected by the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) to perform stream restoration and associated environmental services over the next three years as part of a $2 million on-call contract. Biohabitats has enjoyed a 18+ year relationship with SHA providing design, construction oversight and monitoring on stream and wetland restoration, water quality best management practices and soil bioengineering projects throughout the state. We’re pleased to help SHA achieve its mission of providing mobility while enhancing the environment.

Buffing Up on Buffers

While wetlands are regulated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, wetland buffers are not covered by federal regulations. As a result, numerous states and municipalities are working to establish independent protection efforts to maintain vital ecosystem functions and water quality benefits that occur in buffers. After the establishment of updated wetland protection regulations in the City of Boulder, Colorado, Biohabitats was asked to update wetland maps and functional assessments so as to include wetland areas along riparian corridors. The information is intended to help the City regulate sensitive areas which include 25 or 50 ft buffer areas based on wetland quality information from the functional assessments. Upon presenting the findings to the public, City officials requested more information on buffers. We were asked to help the City summarize the scientific evidence that buffers protect wetland functions in semi-arid and urban settings. Relying on existing information, including previously developed technical reports, graphics (e.g., photos, schematics, illustrations, etc.), guidelines, and resource lists, we produced a report that we hope will help the City as it struggles to protect green space while balancing necessary growth and development.

A Plan To Protect & Restore An Estuarine Research Reserve

The Blackbird Creek, often called simply “Blackbird,” is frequently referred to as an example of one of the most ‘pristine’ creek systems in north/central Delaware. The ecological and cultural setting in which the Blackbird Creek Component resides is connected with a history of farming, fishing, hunting, trapping and other resource uses that have long been cornerstones of the local communities and economy. Biohabitats was selected by the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of 27 National Estuarine Research Reserve System sites in the United States, to develop an ecological restoration master plan to guide ecological restoration initiatives for several recently purchased parcels of the Blackbird Creek Component. The ecological restoration master plan will guide the Blackbird Component’s restoration for immediate, short-term efforts and provide a plan of action for the next 15-20 years.

Coastal Plain Outfall Structures – Preventing Stream Degradation

The Coastal Plain of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia provides unique challenges in preventing stream channels from becoming degraded due to the erosive force of stormwater runoff discharged from storm drain outfalls.  Working in partnership with Underwood and Associates of Annapolis, we have developed an alternative stormwater conveyance system that takes into account the sandy nature of Coastal Plain soils, its unique geomorphology and its distinctive vegetation communities. Anne Arundel County, Maryland, located on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, retained the team of Underwood and Biohabitats to develop and present a series of workshops for County officials, regulatory agencies, and those involved in the land development industry to present this alternative conveyance approach as the future standard for Coastal Plain outfalls.

Partnering To Restore A Mile Degraded Stream Creek In Colorado

After working with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe on the restoration of two reaches of Rock Creek, a tributary to the Pine River along ranch land in Ignacio, Colorado, we are thrilled to begin work on a third. Overgrazing and use of irrigation upstream has altered the hydrology of Rock Creek, resulting in sediment loading in the Pine River. Construction on the first two reaches, performed by Stan Neil out of Durango, CO, was a true community effort, involving tribal members and students from the local high school in the installation of plant material. Our work with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe on this third reach brings our total length of restoration to approximately a mile, and has provided us the unique opportunity to continue learning about the system and applying innovative solutions.

Revegetating the Banks of the Allegheny River for the Majestic Star Casino

Working as part of a collaborative design team for Strada, Biohabitats is developing revegetation plans for the $435 million Majestic Star Casino along Pittsburgh’s North Shore. The current river bank includes a variety of concrete debris that was used over the past 50 years to stabilize the river banks. Using indigenous vegetation, we will be developing a plan that enhances riparian habitat while maintaining riverbank stability. The riverbank revegetation will serve as the foundation for the extension of the North Shore Riverfront Park, providing excellent pedestrian, bicycle and boat access to the facility.


Biohabitats is proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the 2nd National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration, which will take place in Kansas City, MO April 22-27. You won’t want to miss our very own Jeremy Thomas’ presentation on ecosystem restoration in a highly urbanized environment. His talk will highlight our work on a watershed protection plan for New York City’s Jamaica Bay. You can also stop by our booth and chat with Biohabitats president, Keith Bowers and Southern Rocky Mountain Bioregion team member Vince Sortman. Just look for the giant salamander!

Did you know April is National Landscape Architecture Month? Biohabitats president Keith Bowers does, and he plans to celebrate by participating joining Elliot Rhodeside, ASLA, and Deana Rhodeside, ASLA, principals of the Alexandria-based landscape architecture firm Rhodeside & Harwell, Inc., in a panel discussion on sustainable design at the National Building Museum on April 26th.

We look forward to attending the International Association for Great Lakes Research’s 50th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research May 28-June 1 in University Park, PA.

If you plan to attend Gaining Ground, the Sustainable Urban Development Leadership Summit in Victoria BC, Canada June 15-17, keep an eye out for Keith Bowers.


This winter, we welcomed CADD Specialist Jim Crumrine to the Biohabitats team. Jim brings over 15 years experience in drafting and field work, including a stint with the Wyoming Department of Transportation. In drafting, field work and life in general, Jim is swift and unafraid when it comes to acquiring new skills. He is as quick and comfortable learning to ski and rehab houses as he is in mastering the latest AutoCadd and MicroStation software. When he’s not busy drafting or working toward a degree in Landscape Architecture, Jim can be found camping, hiking, mountain biking, fishing or even cooking. (Rare is the man who can boast the ability to produce a map and a frappe!) So what’s this plucky Maryland native’s secret? LOTS of coffee.

She reconditions old cars, rehabs houses, and has been known to recycle 90% of what she consumes. So it’s no wonder GIS Analyst Christine Mielnicki, chose to apply her hydrologic analysis expertise toward the regeneration of the landscape. This talented New York native holds an impressive resume, which includes four years with the State of Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality, where she served as a surface water hydrologist, mine inspector, project manager and IT manager. Drawn to Biohabitats by the philosophy of the company and the values of its employees, Christine not only brings expertise in hydrologic analysis, but also her “can do” spirit and excellent mentoring skills (she once taught wood shop!). Christine earned her B.S. in Watershed Science from Colorado State University and has spent much of her adult life out West. When she’s not busy working or renovating something, Christine can often be found heading back to Colorado for some quality mountain time on her skis or bike.

Our Southern Rocky Mountain Bioregion office continues to grow, as we welcome Senior Ecologist Laura Backus. A Professional Wetland Scientist, Laura specializes in wetland delineation, conceptual design, monitoring and 404 permitting. She also conducts surveys for vegetation, rare plants, and noxious weeds. Laura earned an M.A. in Biology from the University of Colorado. Prior to joining Biohabitats, Laura spent seven years as an Environmental Scientist with Carter & Burgess in Denver, Co. Laura’s long time interest in the environment grew when she moved to Colorado and started hiking  and backpacking. This one-time bicycle racer has expanded her mountain recreational pursuits to include cross country skiing, mountain biking, running and identifying wildflowers. She also devotes a great deal of her spare time doing volunteer restoration work. When she’s not working, playing and volunteering, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

Biohabitats president and founder, Keith Bowers, is profiled as one of six local “Green Giants” in the April issue of Style magazine.

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