Leaf Litter

Biohabitats Projects, Places, and People

Get to know the folks in our Southern Rocky Mountain Bioregion office, and find out about the latest Biohappenings.

By Amy Nelson

Article Index


Wetland and Riparian Restoration In The City of Fort Collins

The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Program manages over 1,000 acres of open space properties along the Cache La Poudre River, including numerous former gravel ponds with significant water resources and habitat values. We were pleased to have been selected to help the city by providing on-call consulting and engineering services related to the assessment of alternatives, design, planning and construction of wetland and riparian restoration projects. As an initial step, we have been participating in the update of the Poudre River Master Plan, conducting a riparian assessment along over 10 miles of river, evaluating groundwater and surface water hydrology, and assisting with vegetation mapping. Restoration planning is currently underway to identify projects that can then be selected based on viable water sources, unique habitat features, opportunities to improve impaired areas, and opportunities for community education and partnerships.

Countin’ Burrows, Dog Gone It!

We recently helped the City of Louisville, CO in their efforts to develop an updated management plan for the prairie dog, a keystone species of western grasslands. We conducted a mapping effort to identify active, vacant and treated burrows in the city’s open space areas. The project covers 10 management areas and over 6000 burrows!

Boulder County Is Getting To Know It’s Riparian Corridors

Biohabitats completed the inventory and assessment of four plains streams and adjacent habitat, totaling 21.7 river miles to assist Boulder County Parks and Open Space in understanding their riparian corridor properties as a whole and to prioritize restoration and maintenance projects. The properties ranged from difficult to access and seldom visited to areas highly impacted by agriculture and urbanization. As part of the project, we compiled existing information (including GIS mapping) which we used to develop an assessment methodology based on the Bureau of Land Management Proper Function Condition standard.

Restoring Streams on Tribal Land

The Ute Indians are Colorado’s oldest continuous residents. Over the past several years, we have had the honor of partnering with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to reduce erosion and flooding, and create riparian habitat on tribal land. To date, we have collaborated on the restoration of four degraded stream sites near Ignacio, CO. These efforts have included initial site investigations and planning; permitting, stream restoration design, and restoration construction including planting activities with tribal workers and local volunteers. The Tribe’s deep connection to and respect for the land is evident in the way the Tribal Council and Tribal members have embraced and participated in these important projects.

New Bank Stabilization Technique Receives Preliminary Approval From Colorado Trout

A recent stream restoration project in Park County, CO provided an opportunity to utilize a new bank stabilization technique. Tarryall Creek, a rural, meandering, riffle/pool stream, is located in a hayfield on the Puma Hills Ranch. Because the floodplain is maintained for hay there is little woody vegetation to stabilize the meanders (curves), which were actively eroding. Most of the outside meander banks in the project reach were losing five to ten feet per year and the excessive sediment production was degrading prime trout habitat. While attending the Southeast Stream Restoration Conference in North Carolina in November 2008, Biohabitats Senior Fluvial Geomorphologist Vince Sortman heard Dave Rosgen describe a new technique for bank stabilization which uses logs and tree limbs placed at the toe (bottom) of the new meander bank to provide toe protection and create trout habitat. This seemed like a good fit for Tarryall Creek, because trees on the property would be used for log vanes and rootwads and there would be plenty of tree limbs and other woody debris available for toe stabilization.

This past August, the restoration was constructed using this new technique. First, rootwads were installed in the meander, with root balls placed at the thalweg (deepest part of the stream). Tree limbs and other large woody debris were placed behind the rootwads to form the toe of the new bank.

Large cobble material, harvested from the point bar (sediment deposition on the inside of a meander), was dumped on top of the large woody debris to anchor the wood material. Soil was placed on top of the cobble material. Finally, sod and willows, also harvested from the point bar, were transplanted in the soil to form a bankfull bench and complete the new meander bank. Larger willows were pruned back to allow them to expend energy growing roots.

While this is a new restoration technique it appears to be very successful at least at creating trout habitat. No trout had been observed in any of the eroding meanders of the Tarryall Creek project site. But just a day after completion of the stream restoration using this technique, trout were observed in several of the new meanders. The resiliency of the technique will be tested next spring during peak snow-melt discharge. We look forward to keeping you posted on its progress!

Dedication Ceremony Draws Dedicated Stewards

Dignitaries, school children, community members and engineers alike were on hand to celebrate the dedication of Maidens Choice Run, an urban stream restoration project we designed in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Baltimore. In addition to stream stability and enhanced habitat, the project presented a nice opportunity for outreach and education, as the stream runs through elementary, middle and high school property. In her glowing remarks about the project, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon spontaneously called a few elementary school students on stage to tell, in their own unrehearsed words, why the stream was important. The audience gushed (especially us) as they talked about the need for habitat, cleaner water, and a healthy Chesapeake Bay. While we’re delighted to see the design come to life, bringing with it stability and function, we’re particularly thrilled to witness the stewardship the restoration has inspired within the community.


Environmental Scientist, Suzanne Hoehne will be in Lacrosse, WI this February to present “Integrating Stream and Wetland Restoration through an Innovative Approach” at the inaugural Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium.

February 19th is the date for this year’s SER Mid-Atlantic Conference, which will be held in New Brunswick, NJ. The theme of this year’s conference, “Ecological Restoration: Why Bother?” is sure to stir the pot – and we can’t wait to jump in!


Get to know the folks in our Southern Rocky Mountain Bioregion office: Bioregion Leader & Water Resources Specialist, Claudia Brown, Senior Fluvial Geomorphologist, Vince Sortman, Water Resources Engineer, Mike Lighthiser, and Senior Ecologist, Laura Backus.

Though we’re not generally the kind of folks who follow trends (unless they involve cutting edge innovations in ecological planning and design!) we just couldn’t help ourselves when it came to Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. You’ve got to admit…social networking is pretty fun. Check us out and be a fan!

Bryon Salladin, Biohabitats environmental scientist and ISA certified arborist, has been appointed to the Baltimore City Forestry Board. Forestry Boards, functioning in all 23 Maryland countries and Baltimore City, were established in 1943 by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Baltimore City Forestry Board is composed of individuals who serve voluntarily as advocates for trees and forest. Board members provide leadership for urban and suburban environmental improvement and help educate people about the benefits trees and forests. Yay, Bryon!

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