Leaf Litter

Biohabitats Projects, Places, and People

Check out some of the exciting work we’re doing in the Ohio River Bioregion, meet some new team members, and catch up on the latest Biohabitats happenings.

By Amy Nelson

Article Index


Doing Right By Olmsted

Over a century ago, famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, was commissioned to design a park system for Louisville. Going against the design practice of his day – freestanding parks – Olmsted conceptualized a system of parks connected by tree-lined parkways. Metro Louisville is now building upon the framework laid by Olmsted with a multi-million dollar, multi-year initiative to transform Louisville into a “City of Parks.” A key component of the initiative is the Floyds Fork Greenway Project, an effort to create a new system of parks, trails and open spaces along a 27-mile stretch of Floyds Fork. As a member of a multi-firm consultant team led by Wallace, Roberts and Todd, Biohabitats assessed natural resources for the Floyds Fork Greenway Master Plan. We carried out a watershed-wide GIS-based inventory and analysis of the natural resources to help identify conservation opportunities and guide the arrangement of park uses, programs, and facilities. Our work includes GIS data collection and interpretation of items such as the geology, soils, water resources, and landscape ecology within the watershed. The project team will also use this information to help develop greater understanding and interpretive opportunities of the area’s natural resources. We are thrilled to be part of a team that is building on Olmsted’s legacy of green space in and around Louisville.

Battered Terry’s Branch Gets Some Help

Amidst the rugged hills and hollows typical of Eastern Kentucky, one finds Terry’s Branch, a stream that drains a 2.8-square-mile watershed in Knott County. Over the years, Terry’s Branch had experienced the effects of logging, relocation, and straightening. Were it not for the efforts of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), the stream would likely have remained in a degraded condition. Through an agreement with the Corps of Engineers, KDFWR restores streams to off set impacts caused by activities such as road construction or mining. They turned to Biohabitats for help with Terry’s Branch. We jumped at the chance to design, oversee construction, and monitor the restoration of a 2,900-foot reach of the stream. We believe we have the opportunity to reverse years of degradation.  We also developed additional enhancement plans involving bank stabilization and planting for Balls Fork, of which Terry’s Branch is a tributary.

Forkin’ Over A Great Plan 

When residents of Darlington Farms, a development in Boone County, Kentucky, expressed concerns about flooding and sedimentation of the community’s artificial lake, the County’s Public Works department and the Northern Kentucky Sanitation District responded by commissioning Biohabitats to study the headwater catchment of nearby Allen Fork. Leading a multi-disciplinary team that included the landscape architects Human Nature, we performed a natural resources inventory and a watershed-wide assessment of channel conditions in the one–square-mile area. Using GIS as a planning tool, we examined issues related to stormwater volume and sediment production and explored the potential for improving stormwater management, creeks and floodplains, and passive recreation opportunities throughout the study area. We also assisted the County Engineer in the formation and coordination of a project steering committee. With a watershed approach and the incorporation of stakeholders, the Allen Fork Headwaters Study provided recommendations to implement innovative stormwater management and stream restoration strategies that will improve water quality, decrease flood impacts, reconnect neighborhoods and parks, and serve as a model for other watersheds in the county. Biohabitats has followed up by helping Boone County prioritize and obtain funding for the study’s recommendations.

Goodbye Hazmat. Hello, Habitat.

Damaged by channelization and contamination from a nearby steel mill, two streams in southwest Ohio were in desperate need of help. ENVIRON, an international environmental and health sciences consultancy leading the cleanup, brought in Biohabitats to develop a conceptual restoration plan for the streams. This project requires us to use our unique depth and breadth of ecological restoration expertise to come up with a plan that works with the remediation activities and meets the ecological objectives. Working out of our Ohio River Bioregion office, we began by surveying stream morphology and assessing existing vegetative communities. Further work includes more data collection and discharge and sediment assessments. We look forward to restoring warm water habitat to these very degraded but important stream.


Biohabitats is proud to sponsor the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration’s annual conference on January 9 in Philadelphia.  

Biohabitats Senior Ecologist and Landscape Architect Bill Young will present “Designs for a Changing Landscape” at the 18th Annual Symposium: New Directions in the American Landscape. This year’s topic is Native Landscaping Design for the Real World. The symposium will be held in two locations on two separate dates: January 10-11 at ConnecticutCollege and 16-17 at the Villanova Arboretum.

February 21-22 will find Biohabitats president Keith Bowers in the Land of Enchantment for the 13th Water Conservation & Xeriscape Conference. The event will take place in Albuquerque and will feature a sub-focus on art and ecology.


Although Sally Hoyt’s career choice seems somewhat predetermined (she is a third generation engineer!), it is molded uniquely to her. A native Marylander who grew up sailing and paddling on the Chesapeake Bay, Sally combined her passion for water and nature with her knack for science and math to become a water resources engineer. With more than eight years of experience that includes ecological restoration and watershed protection, Sally brings a strong set of skills in stormwater retrofit design, watershed planning and instruction and outreach to the Bio team. Her experience includes three years with the Center for Watershed Protection, where she guided local governments throughout the U.S. in watershed planning and stormwater management. When she is not developing hydrologic models and designing killer rain gardens, Sally can be found kayaking, hiking and removing invasive species from her yard. Sally has completed graduate coursework at Johns Hopkins University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. We’re also willing to bet she’s the one with the coolest job at the family reunion.

Our Great Lakes bioregional office continues to expand with the addition of water resources engineer, Jennifer Zielinski. An Ohio native and graduate of Case Western Reserve University, Jennifer is thrilled to be back on her home turf after spending ten years in Maryland with the non-profit Center for Watershed Protection (CWP). Jennifer’s work at CWP required frequent and numerous hat changes. She not only performed watershed research, assessment, analysis, but she also counseled governments and communities throughout the U.S. on effective watershed management and innovative stormwater management techniques. She has authored and co-authored numerous national guides and handbooks, including Better Site Design: A Handbook for Changing Development Rules in Your Communit a publication outlining model development principles for reducing the impacts of development on water resources. Jennifer was also responsible for increasing the technical capacity of watershed and stormwater professionals across the country through training and outreach. Yes, Jennifer is as comfortable retrofitting a dry pond as she is leading a national webcast on illicit discharge elimination. Drawn to Biohabitats primarily by our environmental ethic, Jennifer looks forward to getting involved in our full range of projects, particularly ecological restoration and regenerative design. We dig her, too. In fact, we say “hats off” to this skilled engineer, researcher, and communicator!

While the other girls played with dolls and tea sets, Jennifer Dowdell preferred tackling 3-D drawing puzzles intended for her father’s industrial arts students. This zeal for problem solving ultimately combined with a knack for non-fiction writing. The result? An accomplished landscape architect who not only sees projects through the lens of landscape ecology, but also has the unique ability to incorporate stories of human habitation, landscape history, and ecological change. Jennifer has applied a refined aesthetic sensibility with sound research and analysis in sustainable design projects from Baltimore to Bellingham to Bangkok. She holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and History from LoyolaCollege. Her academic experience includes an International Federation of Landscape Architects award-winning brownfield redevelopment project done with three colleagues at a site in Flint, Michigan. But if you think this over-achieving Maryland native is all work and no play, think again. Jennifer enjoys traveling, photography and — believe it or not — flamenco dancing. She’s also the only one in our office who can cook a mean tom kha coconut soup using techniques she learned from street vendors in Thailand. This well-traveled writer and landscape architect certainly brings a world of experience to the Biohabitats team.

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