Out, damned dam! out I say!
When the Lafarge mining company completed its sand and gravel extraction from the Fort Collins, Colorado’s Sterling Natural Area, the pit was graded and seeded. Today, the City of Fort Collins is working with Biohabitats to restore the site. The initiative enjoys great public support, and has been identified as one of the top priorities of the Poudre River for years. The ambitious project has three primary elements: widening of the riparian zone long the Poudre, creation of additional wetland habitat, and removal of an abandoned dam. Biohabitats will lower the steep berm on the river bank, creating more shallow habitat, and use some of the berm material to create a mosaic of riparian woodland, wet meadow and emergent wetland in a nearby pond site. The finished pond site will mimic the scars from natural meanders of a river as it winds across a floodplain. Biohabitats is also replacing an existing dam with a stable, 1000-foot-long drop in elevation. Instead of plunging over concrete, the water will fall more slowly through a pool and riffle system that will greatly improve the shallow riparian habitat for wildlife and allow sediment transport. Both fish and boaters will certainly be happier about having an easy passage past the dam site.
Brighter future for endangered bird and plant species in Sea Bright, NJ
After Hurricane Sandy stripped tons of sand from the beaches between Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, NJ, they were left unable to guard against future storm surges and unsuitable for recreation. A beach re-nourishment project was undertaken during the summer of 2013, but this area is also a known nesting habitat for a number of threatened bird species, including the black skimmer, least tern, roseate tern, and the federally endangered piping plover. The seabeach amaranth plant, also endangered, has been found in the area as well. For these reasons, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company called on Biohabitats to monitor bird and plant species of concern for the duration of its beach re-nourishment activities. Before dredging began, Biohabitats conducted a baseline bird and plant survey in order to note the species and populations present and suggest minimally-invasive locations for the dredging pipe and equipment. Throughout the piping plover and least tern nesting periods, Biohabitats closely watched to ensure that the dredging project did not interfere with the birds, especially as the chicks started to fledge. In Monmouth Beach, approximately 40 least tern chicks successfully fledged in 2013.The only two piping plover chicks to fledge in Sea Bright in 2013 did so under Biohabitats’ careful watch.
Habitat & Stability Restored to Ohio’s Kelsey Creek
Biohabitats is in the final phases of restoring a severely eroded stretch of Kelsey Creek in Summit County, Ohio. The watershed is about three square miles and drains parts of the city of Cuyahoga Falls. A recent dam removal caused channel incision, which only exacerbated the existing erosion that had resulted from excessive stormwater runoff and the lack of riparian vegetation to protect the stream. The tall banks were unsafe for visitors and offered poor wildlife habitat. The changes in the channel conditions had also exposed a gas line and threatened a sanitary sewer line. Working closely with the City, Biohabitats restored approximately 1,100 feet of stream channel and almost two acres of riparian habitat. The design involved creating a base flow channel that is connected to a broad floodplain, which will have the outcome of reducing water speed, establishing better connections between groundwater and surface water, and improving in-stream and riparian habitat. The vegetation is a key component of the restoration plan. In this project, 1.7 acres of maintained lawn and degraded forest are being replaced or enhanced with native riparian forest, native shrub vegetation and wet meadow. To kick off the planting, the project partners are planning a volunteer planting event in October. Finally, the restoration of Kelsey Creek is a key component of the Bicentennial Arboretum plan, and the plants used in the restoration project highlight the native plant communities found in this part of Ohio.
Innovative Stormwater Ponds in Redevelopment along Potomac River
Biohabitats just finished the first phase of construction of two innovative stormwater ponds at Potomac Yard, which was once one of the largest train yards on the East Coast. Today, it hosts a mixed residential and business development. The ponds are located in Potomac Yard Park, a stretch of 25 acres that offers recreational benefits to nearby residents and visitors. The ponds are stormwater ponds with a wastewater engineering twist: they are carefully designed to encourage the beneficial microbes that reduce pollutants in stormwater. The two ponds employ different but related models. The first, which is now complete, pumps water up through floating wetlands. The floating wetlands are about 20 feet in diameter and tethered to the bottom of the pond. Though they are already visually striking, with time they will become more overgrown and look more like small natural islands. Their design relies on the combined 15 years of experience of Biohabitats staff, who have become experts in cultivating healthy microbial communities through their work on natural wastewater systems. The second pond will bring water into the shallow gravel beds that serve as planting media for wetland plants.
Biohabitats Opens Cascadia Bioregion Office
Biohabitats is pleased to announce the opening of our new Cascadia Bioregion office in Portland, Oregon. The new office, located at 412 NW Couch Street, is just west of the Burnside Bridge. Senior engineer Pete Muñoz is leading the office, and he and environmental scientist Katie Bohren are already hard at work on water harvesting and wastewater treatment for Hassalo on Eighth (Lloyd Ecodistrict), the Fernhill Wetland riparian restoration by the Tualatin River, and a project on the Nike Campus. The staff will double in coming months.
Last week, a team of Biohabitats volunteers had the chance to work with some incredibly bright and ambitious middle and high school girls and help them understand how and why to build floating wetlands for hardened, urban waterfronts. The girls, participants of the 2013 Baltimore Girls and STEM Summit, hosted by Under Armour, enjoyed a day of workshops and lectures that exposed them to a variety of STEM careers. The theme of the event was “We must protect this house.”
In addition to Biohabitats and Under Armour, presenters included U.S. Department of Energy, Wells Fargo, LEGO, Northrop Grumman, and iCreate to Educate. Biohabitats’ hands-on science workshop gave the girls the opportunity to learn about their watershed, Chesapeake Bay habitat, and the science, math and engineering behind the “floating” aspect of floating wetlands.
With their enthusiasm and participation, the girls showed us that they are definitely going places. We have no doubt that the group of talented young ladies included some future environmental scientists and engineers! (For more photos from the Baltimore Girls & STEM Summit, see our facebook page)
Important Gathering in the Pacific Northwest
Last week, Biohabitats president Keith Bowers and Cascadia Bioregion Leader Pete Munoz were in Bend, Oregon for the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association 2013 Annual Conference. They participated in a pre-conference workshop led by Clean Water Services on Natural Treatment Systems, and presented Unlocking the Potential of Natural Systems by Understanding Ecology and Place.
The one-day Baltimore Stormwater Summit will take place September 25 at the University of Baltimore. Jennifer Zielinski is an invited speaker in a panel on urban innovation and workforce development.
At the 9th Natural Resources Symposium in Washington, D.C. on October 1, Keith Bowers will present on the work being undertaken by the Society for Ecological Restoration relative to natural resource restoration, as well as some of the increasing synergies that we are seeing in practice globally.
The Society for Ecological Restoration was founded 25 years ago to promote ecological restoration, and it remains the most important group of professionals engaged in the repair of degraded ecosystems. Biohabitats is proud to sponsor the 5th SER World Conference on October 6-11 in Madison, Wisconsin. If you plan to be there, be sure to stop by the Biohabitats booth and say hello to Keith Bowers, Terry Doss and Joe Berg. Keith will be participating in a symposium entitled Assessment to Recovery: Setting priorities for restoring ecosystem capacity and led by Steve Edwards of IUCN. Keith will also lead a discussion of Near-shore to deep-sea marine restoration–Venturing into the abyss, and participate in Orchestrating Holistic Restoration: Why and How, led by Jackie Brookner and James Aronson,
The 2013 Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference in Avon, CO will bring together practitioners and regulators to expand collaboration throughout Colorado. This year’s theme examines the “New Normal”, how baseline shifts in demographics and ecological variables are affecting the state’s watersheds. Several members of Biohabitats’ SRMB will attend October 8-10.
Joe Berg will be attending the one-day Maryland State Floodplain Managers Conference in Linthicum, MD, on October 17.
The Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership will be hosting the Pennsylvania Stormwater Symposium on October 17-18. Brett Long will be representing Biohabitats, which is a sponsor of the event.
Alan Garrido is traveling to Huila, Colombia, to speak about wastewater management at the 4th International Seminar on the Rational Use of Water on October 28- November 2. Engineering students from Latin America and the Caribbean will be in attendance.
The Mid-Atlantic Stream Restoration Conference will take place October 30-November 1 in Baltimore, MD. This year’s event will explore explore the Science, Engineering and Technology behind Stream Restoration in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast
Claudia Browne will attend the 15th annual Cherry Creek Watershed Annual Conference in Denver, CO, on November 6, where interested parties meet to update each other on what is happening in the watershed.
Keith will be presenting on regenerative design at the Sustainable Development Council Meeting during the Urban Land Institute Fall Meeting, Chicago, November 5-8.
Keith Bowers will head out to Seattle November 8-10 to attend The Wildlands Network‘s semi-annual Board meeting.
Keith Bowers will to join like-minded invitees from all over the world for Sustainable Collaboration: Sustainable Conservation, Sustainable Investing and Sustainability, which will take place in Kiawah Island, SC, November 10-12.
The annual EcoDistricts Summit brings together policymakers, developers, business leaders, planners, and community leaders to share best practices in urban design. This year the meeting is in Boston, on November 12-14, and Keith Bowers will present on the importance of landscape ecology, conservation biology and restoration ecology as critical components of EcoDistrict planning and implementation. Senior engineer Pete Munoz will also be attending this great event.
The foremost conference for landscape architects will be in Boston immediately after the Ecodistricts summit on November 15-18. The ASLA Annual Meeting has dozens of sessions, including ones on Restoration and Reclamation and Sustainable Design. Both Keith and Michael Spina will be attending. Participating in a presentation led by Studio Outside entitled After Ike: Sea Level Rise and Redevelopment of Galveston Island State Park, Keith will speak on habitat issues associated with sea level rise and shifting plant communities.
Mike Thompson will attend the annual conference of the Maryland Water Monitoring Council, in Linthicum, MD, on December 5.
As an adventurous teen, influenced by a grown up and enduring love of nature, Katie once dreamed of leaving Wisconsin to be a park ranger among the “big trees” of the Pacific northwest. Her path has been remarkably true to her high school imaginings. She worked as ranger in the city of Phoenix before moving to Portland to work in the regulation of small onsite wastewater treatment systems and solid waste facilities. Stormwater management techniques were the focus of her master’s work in hydrology and water resource science, though her experience is varied. Her career adventures have also included monitoring insects on green roofs, shocking fish, and teaching English in Thailand. The interests and skill set she brings to Biohabitats’ new Cascadia office are correspondingly broad, and include critically important abilities such as striking the right balance of hops, malts and yeast in her homebrews. She and her husband and their very, very large dogs enjoy all sorts of outdoor romping around greater Portland, in addition to and in combination with their beery pursuits.
Meghan is an engineer who hails from Kent County, Maryland, but went to undergrad at Virginia Tech so she could have a football team to root for. She is one of several recent hires who came to know Biohabitats by working with us and liking what she saw, a testament both to the firm and to her good sense. Meghan joins the Chesapeake office, where she will contribute her hydrologic and hydraulic modeling talents to work on streams, BMPs, and stormwater management. Away from her computer she is usually to be found outside, flicking discs, hiking or kayaking. As she grows increasingly comfortable in her role and relationships, she will be increasingly tempted to implement one of her famously complicated and funny pranks- beware!