Leaf Litter

Biohabitats Projects, Places, and People

From master planning a unique waterfront university in Florida to a riverside development in Idaho Falls, see how we are engaging stakeholders in our latest projects.

By Amy Nelson

Article Index


Taking The Bite Out of The Big Apple’s Storwmater Management Problems

The five boroughs of New York City are plagued with stormwater management problems. As part of an effort to address these problems, Biohabitats is assessing opportunities to apply stormwater best management practices (BMP) to mitigate the quantity and quality of runoff entering the City’s entire combined sewer system. We are considering a wide array of technologies, including: collection; filtering and treatment systems; non-structural and structural strategies; and changes in management practices, development regulations, architectural guidelines and land use policies. We will also recommend education tools and stakeholder awareness programs. “Out-of-the-box” ideas, tailored to the City’s ultra-urban infrastructure and unique environmental conditions, and emerging technologies, such as green roof canopies and green corridors, are also being considered. We are proud to help New York City take this important step toward the development of a comprehensive, long-term approach to stormwater management.

Best Management Practices To Guide Flood Prone Village In Ohio

Little Duck Creek passes through the Village of Fairfax, Ohio. Many homes in the Village sit within the regulated flood zone and regularly experience flash floods from the creek. In July of 2001, one such flood resulted in the deaths of two Village residents, along with significant structural damage. Village administrators have begun buying out the most at-risk properties, and in partnership with the Hamilton County Park District (HCPD), have successfully acquired funding assistance from the Clean Ohio Fund for stream restoration and flood protection. As part of this effort, HCPD turned to Biohabitats to develop a user-friendly Best Management Practices Plan to help the Village in the short-term, during property acquisition, and over the long-term to manage the acquired land. The plan focuses on protecting and improving stream resources while reducing the impacts of flash floods. We are currently producing GIS-based maps showing existing conditions and conceptual future conditions with stream restoration and park development.

Cooperation Leads to Coastal Bay Habitat Restoration

The upper St. Martins River is the most degraded water body in Maryland’s coastal bays. As part of a cooperative effort among the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S, Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland State Highway Administration, the Worcester County, Maryland government and private landowners to improve the river, Biohabitats and Keith Underhill are designing a stream and wetland restoration project involving the removal of a dam to open fish access. The 4,000 linear foot stream restoration will open up miles of much habitat for anadromous fish, which have been negatively affected by two centuries worth of dam building. The project will also involve the restoration of approximately 12 acres of associated marsh and forest in the floodplain. Forest floodplain improvement will include plantings of the majestic Atlantic white cedar, once a common forest species in the area, but now virtually absent from the coastal bays. Having recently received national funding from the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council, the project is scheduled for implementation in September. (Government officials, contractors, members of a non-profit organization and landowners gathered for a photo while visiting the restoration site recently.)

Mill Creek Connector Trail and Ecological Restoration

Mill Creek, a tributary to the Cuyahoga River has played a considerable role in the industrial development of southern Cuyahoga County, Ohio. It has a drainage area of over 20 square miles and flows through nine communities. Human development of the area of has resulted in significant environmental degradation and impaired ecological condition throughout the Mill Creek valley. Using the framework provided in a prior study (The Lower Mill Creek Conservation Greenway Plan Report, Biohabitats, et al. 2004), we are working with DLZ, Inc. to execute an ecological restoration and greenway plan for this area. The work includes restoration and conservation of native vegetation and wildlife habitat, designing and constructing a stable, natural channel for Mill Creek, and constructing a bike and hike trail to connect people from the upper Mill Creek valley to the larger Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation. This plan reclaims and enhances a once abused landscape, and creates a greenway corridor within an urban center that will expand recreation opportunities for approximately 450,000 people living in the surrounding communities.

Improving Stormwater Management in an Urban Ohio Watershed

Big Creek, a tributary of the Cuyahoga River, flows through the cities of Cleveland and Parma. An analysis of the draining capacity of one of its subwatersheds, Chevrolet Branch, revealed some major problems: significant projected flooding and virtually no remaining floodplain, to name a few. A multidisciplinary team led by DLZ, Inc., is taking on a multi-community, multi-agency project involving a diversion pipe, a storage basin, and the restoration of 4,500 linear feet of Chevrolet Branch. Biohabitats is creating stream restoration designs using principals of natural channel design. Our primary goals are to realign the stream; develop a riparian zone with native vegetation; remove existing failed retaining walls; and restore both the flow and sediment carrying capacity of the stream.

Planning A Lakefront Nature Preserve On A Former Dredge Dumping Site

As part of an overall plan to improve public access to Lake Erie and stimulate economic development, the City of Cleveland is working with Biohabitatson a plan to create a nature preserve on an 88-acre former dredge disposal site known as Dike 14. The area has become naturalized over the years and is now home to hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, mammals and native Ohio plants. The plan, which was developed with input from a wide array of stakeholders, involves the creation a six-acre wetland on the site. The plan also includes areas designated for hiking, biking, picnicking and observing wildlife. Before the project can continue further, City officials must secure funding to conduct environmental testing of the fill to ensure public safety.

Teaming With MD State Highway Association For Ecological Restoration & Conservation Planning

Last month, Biohabitats and joint venture partner McCormick Taylor were chosen by the Maryland State Highway Administration to provide up to $2 million worth of wetland mitigation and related environmental services for projects in the state of Maryland. As part of a separate contract, Biohabitats, in a joint venture with Century Engineering, will also provide MSHA with Natural Environmental Inventories and Analysis services on projects throughout Maryland. This work will help MSHA incorporate conservation planning in its efforts to maintain and construct the state’s highways.


For those of you planning to attend the 16th Annual Tennessee Water Resources Symposium in Burns, Tennessee April 19-21, keep an eye out for Mike Lighthiser, our Ohio River Bioregional leader. Mike will be attending and exhibiting at this annual conference addressing water issues throughout Tennessee and the surrounding region.

Don’t miss Biohabitats fluvial geomorphologists extraordinaire, Vince Sortman and Ellen McClure, presenting at the 2006 Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Sections of the American Water Resources Association , June 14-16, in Branchville, NJ. Vince will highlight the restoration of Cobbs Creek in Philadelphia as an example of urban stream channel restoration. Ellen will present “Design Strategies for a High-Gradient, Supply-Limited Stream Restoration.”

We hope those of you who attended the Schuylkill Watershed Congress on March 4th in Pottstown, Pennsylvania had a chance to stop by and visit us at the Biohabitats booth. (With our giant salamander, we’re kind of hard to miss.) We were thrilled to participate in this regional gathering of people interested in understanding, protecting and restoring their local streams.

The Virginia Association of Wetland Professionals Winter Workshop on January 25 featured Biohabitats Senior Fluvial Geomorphologist, Vince Sortman, presenting “The Trials and Tribulations of Stream Restoration.” With new stream mitigation guidelines recently issued by the Norfolk Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Vince’s presentation proved to be timely and well received.

January 10 found members of the mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration gathering in Philadelphia for a forum to discuss “Doing it Right: Putting The Plan Into Practice.” To kick off this stimulating exchange of information among regional practitioners, Biohabitats president Keith Bowers delivered the keynote address on “Principles of Ecological Restoration.”


Welcome Peter May, Biohabitats’ newest Environmental Scientist. With over nine years as a wetland ecologist for Washington, DC’s Watershed Protection Division, and an impressive dossier of tropical ecology research he conducted in Belize, Brazil, Ecuador and Egypt, Peter brings extensive field and project management experience to our team. A Maryland native, Peter has a B.S. in Natural Resources Management/Water Resources from the University of Maryland. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Marine Estuarine Environmental Science at that same institution. His thesis-in-the-making is on the conversion of mud flats to emergent tidal marsh. Between his work at Biohabitats and his educational pursuits, Peter actually manages to squeeze in some fun sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and enjoying his collection of motorcycles.

Having grown up in a highly urbanized area he lovingly refers to as a “post-apocalyptic landscape,” Kevin Heatley has a unique appreciation for natural places. After earning his B.S. in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers, he wasted no time beginning both a career in ecosystem restoration and a gradual emigration to progressively less populated landscapes. Now living in North Central Pennsylvania, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of deep, pristine forests, steep, majestic cliffs, and rugged mountain terrain, Kevin finds himself with over 20 years of experience in ecosystem characterization, integrated vegetation management and community-based forestry. Prior to joining our team, Kevin worked as a Senior Forester and Project Manager for a private consultant. He also provided the conceptual design for a leading GIS-based vegetation management software system. An engaging public speaker and instructor, Kevin recognizes the importance of public education – and fun – in ecosystem protection and restoration. When he’s not battling invasive species, or working on his Masters thesis project (modeling the carbon sequestration impact of woody vegetation in a stable suburban institutional landscape), Kevin can be found deep in the woods, practicing sustainable living on his homestead and dreaming about retiring in the Yukon, where he plans to pretend that his first 60 years were nothing but a hallucination due to exposure to petrochemicals.

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