The Restoration Webinar Series
The Restoration Webinar Series, hosted by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is a venue for disseminating new approaches, best management practices and innovative restoration techniques to some of our nation’s greatest restoration challenges. The series covers a broad spectrum of topics including: planning and implementing restoration projects; project monitoring and evaluation at multiple time scales; accounting for a changing climate in restoration; regional restoration planning and priority setting; and permitting.
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The Restoration Webinar Descriptions
Presented by Judy Haner, TNC. August 28, 2014.
Mobile Bay, Alabama, the fourth largest estuary in the US, plays an important role in nurturing the finfish, shrimp, crabs and oysters that are vital to Gulf of Mexico communities. It has experienced significant loss of critical coastal habitats that shelter these species through dredge-and-fill activities, seawalls, erosion, storm events, and other causes. With funding received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Gulf of Mexico Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation and many other organizations, TNC and our partners have put to the test six different techniques for oyster reef restoration in coastal Alabama. Traditional shoreline armoring techniques, such as bulkheads and seawalls, reflect wave energy, causing sediment to remain in suspension and adding to the destruction of shallow-water fisheries habitat. Low-crested, submerged breakwaters offer an alternative to armoring that helps to slow erosion, create habitat for fish, crabs, oysters and other animals, and protect marsh habitat that proves vital for coastal resiliency in the face of flooding, storms, and sea-level rise. This presentation will focus on a discussion of the individual techniques, their application in restoration, methods for deployment, and the monitoring techniques that are being used to track performance.
Presented by Dr. Joy Zedler, Aldo Leopold Professor of Restoration Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Arboretum. October 22, 2015.
Many of the earth’s most altered ecosystems are urban wetlands, owing to their positions low in their watersheds. The most highly altered urban wetlands occur downstream from large developed areas with extensive hardscaping (impervious streets, roofs, driveways, and sidewalks). Compared to historical conditions, watersheds with substantial hardscaping discharge water in larger pulses of greater velocity than historically, and the water carries more contaminants. Moreover, since hydrological conditions are critical to the type and composition of wetlands, all downstream ecosystem components will be altered, creating novel hydroperiods and geomorphology, novel soils, and assemblages of plants and animals that are without analogs in natural ecosystems. Such is the case for the Ballona Wetlands (Fig. 1), whose hydrological conditions are highly modified and whose biota include native and nonnative species in new combinations. Can restorationists turn back the clock? Not entirely (Seastedt et al. 2008). It is unrealistic to imagine that restoration activities could eliminate—or even compensate for—the many environmental stressors in urban wetlands or that restorationists could replace the full complement of species that once inhabited such ecosystems. At the other extreme, it seems unwise to allow environmental impacts to continue to degrade highly valued places such as the Ballona Wetland. Rather than pursing futile efforts to turn back the clock, restorationists could choose to acknowledge the many irreversible attributes of humanized watersheds and adapt restoration targets to landscape change. Here, I consider landscape change to encompass a broad spectrum of human effects—some direct, such as hardscaping, and some indirect, such as climate change.
Presented by Laura Valoppi, U.S. Geological Survey. November 12, 2015.
The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (www.southbayrestoration.org) is the largest wetlands restoration project on the West coast of the United States. It is unique not only for its size-- over 15,000 acres—but for its location adjacent to one of the nation’s largest urban areas, home to over 3 million people. The Project is intended to restore and enhance wetlands in South San Francisco Bay while providing for flood management and wildlife-oriented public access and recreation.
We have identified long-term alternatives for the Project, each representing a continuum toward different endstates: one end-state at 50% of the existing ponds converted to managed ponds for waterbirds and 50% restored to salt marsh habitat, and the other end of the continuum at 10% of the existing ponds converted to managed ponds and 90% restored to marsh habitat. The final ratio of managed ponds to salt marsh habitat will depend on the outcome of the Adaptive Management Plan, which will be implemented over the next 50 years. The Plan will allow for lessons learned from earlier phases and applied studies to be incorporated into subsequent stages as management objectives and designs of future actions are revised and implemented. The Project has completed most of the Phase 1 studies, and much has been learned about key uncertainties.
This webinar will describe the establishment of the Adaptive Management Plan and process, provide a South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project overview, and will summarize the results of the studies done to date and the lessons learned, and how managers adapted and changed the restoration designs or management actions to improve wildlife use within the Project. Several examples will be shared including management of nesting bird habitat, shallow mound habitat for foraging birds, sediment dynamics, fisheries use of habitats, and mercury bioaccumulation.
Presented by Stefanie Simpson, Blue Carbon Program Manager for Restore America’s Estuaries and Steve Emmett-Mattox, Sr. Director for Strategic Planning and Programs with Restore America’s Estuaries. March 30, 2017.
Coastal wetlands – seagrass, mangroves, salt marsh, forested and other tidal wetlands – can sequester and store significant amounts of carbon, an ecosystem service referred to as “blue carbon”. Recently approved by the Verified Carbon Standard, the VM0033 Methodology for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration allows coastal restoration projects with a climate benefit anywhere in the world to generate carbon credits. Restoration activities such as removing tidal barriers, improving water quality to increase seagrass habitat, beneficial use of dredged material, and re-introducing native plant communities can now access carbon finance on the voluntary carbon market.
Presenters: Stefanie Simpson is the Blue Carbon Program Manager for Restore America’s Estuaries and coordinates blue carbon efforts across the nation.
Steve Emmett-Mattox is the Sr. Director for Strategic Planning and Programs with Restore America’s Estuaries. He leads the national blue carbon initiative and is the coauthor of several blue carbon tools and resources.
Presented by Sara Vacek, Wildlife Biologist, Morris Wetland Management District, Minnesota. May 19, 2016.
Much of the native prairie managed by conservation organizations in the Prairie Pothole Region of the United States is extensively invaded by the introduced cool-season grasses, smooth brome (Bromus intermis) and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis). Restoration management efforts intended to suppress these invasive grasses and increase native plants are not well documented and often vary in effectiveness. With continued degradation of prairies, land managers
identified the need for a better approach to understand the effects of prairie management. The Grassland Monitoring Team (GMT) is a partnership among the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Grassland Monitoring Team is a collaborative, broad-scale effort, intended to provide reliable, robust information on the efficacy of prairie management using prescribed fire and grazing. This group
is working to understand the effects of grassland management tools and frequency of management on prairie composition, particularly how to reduce invasive species without harming the native floristic component.
Sara Vacek is a wildlife biologist at Morris Wetland Management District in western Minnesota. A field station in the National Wildlife Refuge System, Morris WMD is responsible for managing over 50,000 acres of grassland and wetland wildlife habitat. Sara coordinates the biology program at the district, including inventory and monitoring, research, and planning. She attended Lawrence University in Appleton, WI and South Dakota State University in Brookings.
Presented by Michael Yadrick and Oliver Bazinet, Seattle Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Unit. April 9, 2015.
The Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) is a unique public-private venture dedicated to restoring 2,500 acres of forested parklands by 2025. With over 500,000 volunteer hours, work ongoing at 80 different parks, and several thousand volunteer events annually, the partnership has seen much success. Now almost 10 years into the 20 year program, we are asking ourselves, “Are we there yet?” This talk will focus on how we have tracked restoration, developed thresholds for success, and will identify some of the trends influencing future restoration efforts in the largest urban forest restoration effort in the nation.
To track restoration progress, GSP uses a combination of data collection methods. Baseline data collection in 2000 was used to develop “Tree-iage,” a restoration prioritization system that categorizes sites by invasive plant cover and existing tree cover. Work is reported by volunteers, contractors, and parks staff using a data portal, called CEDAR. Rapid inventory and mapping of restoration sites is carried out annually, and to provide more details about change over time, a plot-based monitoring program also exists. In the last several years, target ecosystems have been identified for all sites to guide restoration efforts and provide thresholds in which to measure success. As we make decisions about work planning and restoration best practices, the thresholds are starting to guide our approach, especially in understanding when we have reached the phase of long term maintenance. Data suggests a continued issue with invasive woody species in restored sites, as well as needs for higher plant diversity, and increased conifer cover. In addition, many questions exist about the applicability of these target systems in an urban environment given the fragmented condition of much of Seattle’s parklands as well as the influence of climate change.
Presented by Alan Steinman (Annis Water Resources Institute), Kathy Evans (West Michigan Shoreline Dev. Comm.), Kelly Rice (GEI Consultants of Michigan), and Terry Heatlie (NOAA-Affiliate). November 2016.
Bear Lake and its main tributary, Bear Creek, are part of the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC). Muskegon Lake was designated an AOC under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1985 due to ecological problems caused by industrial discharges, shoreline alterations and the filling of open water and coastal wetlands. Since 1992, community groups, governmental and nongovernmental organizations have worked collaboratively to remediate contaminated sediments and to restore and protect fish and wildlife species and their habitats within the lake and its tributaries. Historic sawmill debris, foundry sand and slag filled almost 800 acres of open water and emergent wetlands in the AOC. This resulted in the loss and degradation of shallow water benthos communities; isolation, degradation, and fragmentation of coastal wetlands; and the associated impairment of water quality and fish and wildlife populations. After completion of numerous habitat restoration projects as well as other projects in development by partners within the AOC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) now expects to remove Muskegon Lake from the list of Great Lakes “toxic hotspots” by as early as 2018.
One of the barriers to delisting the Muskegon Lake AOC is eutrophication. Although phosphorus concentrations in Muskegon Lake have declined to below the restoration target of 25 μg/L, high phosphorus levels still exist in Bear Lake, which flows directly into Muskegon Lake. The source(s) of the high phosphorus levels in Bear Lake are still under investigation, but a former celery farm, where agricultural muck fields have been taken out of production and re-flooded to form two ponds, is one plausible source. The installation of earthen berms between the celery farm ponds and Bear Creek has prevented surface water and fish passage between these aquatic ecosystems since the 1930’s. In an attempt to address the phosphorus issue in Bear Lake and to increase aquatic habitat within the greater Muskegon Lake AOC, a restoration project has been designed and will be implemented in 2016. Extensive monitoring of the muck fields’ water quality and sediments has occurred to inform the restoration design and to determine if detrimental impacts might occur in Bear Creek/Lake as a function of hydrologic re-connection. The pre-restoration monitoring plan included specific measurements of phosphorus concentrations in the water column, sediments, and pore water; general water quality parameters (e.g., dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH); and sediment organic matter. We also determined phosphorus isotherms for the muck field sediments, which allowed us to calculate the EPC0 and maximum P sorption capacity (Smax) of the sediments. This information was used in the development of a restoration design that protects Bear Creek and Bear Lake, while benefiting fish and wildlife. This presentation will discuss the techniques used to design implement and monitor the restoration of 36 acres of fish and wildlife habitat and nutrient removal functions of this former natural floodplain through restoration of native wetland vegetation, the softening of 2,850 feet of shoreline and removal of 5.2 acres (182,735 tons) of fill.
Presenter: Alan (Al) Steinman has been Director of Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute since 2001. Previously, he was Director of the Lake Okeechobee Restoration Program at the South Florida Water Management District. Dr. Steinman holds a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Ph.D. in Botany/Aquatic Ecology from Oregon State University, an M.S. in Botany from the University of Rhode Island and a B.S. in Botany from the University of Vermont.
Presented by Jody Palmer and Sammy Anderson, Brevard Zoo, FL. May 21, 2015.
The Brevard Oyster Restoration Program includes the oyster mat and oyster gardening project. Both projects focus on utilizing the filter feeding of native oysters to improve the water quality and overall health of the Indian River Lagoon. The oyster mat project led by Brevard Zoo and the University of Central Florida along with the efforts of over 36,000 volunteers, has successfully restored 69 reefs to date in Mosquito Lagoon using scientifically designed oyster mats, returning 4.2 million oysters to the habitat. Inspired by this project, the oyster gardening project recruits Brevard County residents act as citizen scientists installing oyster habitats on their personal docks and weekly monitoring their progress. Data collected will provide information regarding the survivability and recruitment of oysters in Brevard County for future large scale oyster reef restoration in the Indian River Lagoon.
Presented by Andrea Noel , GTM National Estuarine Research Reserve-Florida and Will Underwood, Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve-Mississippi. October 15, 2015.
This webinar will compare two shoreline stabilization projects that utilized coconut fiber materials. The presenters will compare and contrast: locations, techniques, materials, and outcomes of the two projects.
This month will feature two presentations on the condition of New York City's urban forests and tidal marshes. Clara Pregitzer, Natural Areas Conservancy, and Christopher Haight, NYC Dept. of Parks & Rec. June 9, 2016.
The Ecological Complexity of Human Altered Landscapes. Using Data to Build a Framework for Forest Management in New York City. Clara Pregitzer. New York City is one of the most diverse places in the world, including our incredible ecological diversity. Of the 30,000 acres of city parkland, one third are natural areas comprised of forest, grasslands, salt-marshes and freshwater wetlands. Formed in 2012, the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) is a non-profit organization working in partnership with NYC Parks to conserve, steward, and restore the 10,000 acres of natural areas that bring numerous benefits to local communities.
As a flagship project the NAC has recently completed the first ever comprehensive study of NYC’s natural areas, including an extensive study of our urban forests. To study NYC’s forests the NAC designed a method to evaluate the condition of NYC’s forest using key ecological attributes and indicators of healthy urban forests. Data was collected across forest, grassland and scrubland encompassing over 7,000 acres of city parkland within 53 NYC parks. Our 25 field staff worked across all five boroughs and studied the most remote places in NYC establishing forest plots to measure metrics such as the ecological diversity including tree species and size, forest canopy health, soil condition, forest regeneration and herbaceous species cover, invasive vines, human alterations and vandalism and more. We currently know more now than we ever have about the diversity, distribution and condition of our forests in New York City. During this webinar we will share our approach, key findings and discuss future directions including a long term regional framework that categorizes all of NYC Park’s forest based on health (including native tree canopy) and threat (i.e. including invasive vines).
NYC Tidal Marsh Assessment: Condition, Vulnerability and Opportunities for Restoration and Migration. Christopher Haight. Today, New York City (NYC) has approximately 4,000 acres of tidal marshlands. This represents a loss of over 80% of the historic tidal marsh coverage in NYC. These remaining marshlands are vulnerable to further loss during this century due to sea level rise (SLR) and other factors. In order to improve the long term viability of these marshes, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation's (NYCDPR) Natural Resources Group (NRG) is conducting an EPA funded project in partnership with the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) that evaluates the current condition and vulnerability of NYC wetlands to sea level rise and urbanization and prioritizes marshes and their adjacent uplands for restoration. Through field and desktop analyses NRG, NAC, and TNC are in the process of determining current marsh condition, vulnerability to SLR and opportunities for protection, restoration and potential inland migration for salt marsh complexes across NYC.
The collected field data and desktop analyses were used to develop condition and vulnerability indices for the 25 marshes. Opportunities for restoration at these sites are being explored by identifying strategies to optimize adjacent inland migration acres in future years and optimizing long term viability of the existing salt marsh footprint. These strategies include identifying adjacent migration parcels for acquisition by NYC Parks, identifying barriers to inland migration, prioritizing sites in need of increased elevation, and prioritizing sites for building out to the lost 1974 waterward extent. This study and our findings are informing the NYC Mayor's Office Special Initiative on Recovery and Resilience as well as other state and federal coastal resiliency programs. Presented by: Clara Pregitzer and Christopher Haight Clara Pregitzer is an Ecologist with the Natural Areas Conservancy and PhD student at Yale University. Christopher Haight works for the NYC Dept. of Parks & Rec and is a Project Manager for Wetland and Riparian Restoration.
Contemporary Issues and Lessons Learned (00:55:19)
Presented by Marla Stelk, Policy Analyst, Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWN). August 3, 2017.
Numerous studies have documented the shortcomings of wetland mitigation and voluntary restoration projects to achieve stated goals. There is general agreement among restoration professionals that the science exists to achieve restoration goals and that wetland restoration performance will improve if certain barriers are addressed. In 2013, the Association of State Wetland Managers began to identify some of the barriers and established a national work group of 25 restoration experts, including practitioners, academics, consultants, regulators, and policy makers, to further identify and analyze these barriers and develop recommendations to address them. This project spanned two US EPA Wetland Program Development Grant cycles and included 24 educational webinars, monthly work group conference calls and outreach at several national events, culminating in a white paper that summarizes the project's findings. This presentation will provide an overview of the white paper's findings and provide strategic recommendations to improve wetland restoration outcomes.
Marla Stelk is a Policy Analyst at the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM). She has been ASWM’s project leader for two U.S. EPA wetland restoration grants and coordinates a national wetland restoration workgroup with the goal improving restoration outcomes. Marla has a MA in Community Planning and Development from the Edward S. Muskie School of Public Service and a BA in Environmental Issues from Colorado College.
Presented by Andrea Pickart, Ecologist, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS. November 14, 2013.Enhancing the resilience of riparian/wetland ecosystems in light of climate change (00:59:57)
The Lanphere Dunes (now part of Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge) was the site of the first coastal dune restoration project on the west coast. Carried out from 1992-1998, this effort has been joined by additional restoration on neighboring lands, resulting in a total of 12 km of restored shoreline, with more projects planned and funded. The two restoration projects carried out on HBNWR were well documented and included long term monitoring, providing a quantitative record of restoration success that will be presented in this webinar. Restoration has focused on the removal of invasive plants that reduce biodiversity and/or alter ecosystem processes, primarily European beachgrass, yellow bush lupine, iceplant, and invasive annual grasses. On the refuge, mechanical (including manual digging) methods have been employed due to the juxtaposition of degraded with intact habitat supporting endangered plants. Revegetation is limited to planting of the native dune grass, with other species re-establishing through natural dispersal. Monitoring has shown that vegetation is now similar in cover and species composition to nearby uninvaded dunes. A graduate research project has also documented the recovery of invertebrate species as a measure of restoration success. Refuge and other FWS staff recently implemented an abiotic monitoring program to evaluate sediment budget and sand movement in restored vs. unrestored dunes. This project will provide a basis for modeling dune response to projected sea level rise.
Presented by Andrew Breibart, BLM and Betsy Neely, TNC. December 3, 2015.
The Gunnison Climate Working Group works to design and implement an on-the-ground climate adaptation
project to retain water and enhance the resilience of riparian/wetland in light of climate change. The GCWG
comprises public agencies, academic institutions, and private organizations working to: 1) increase
understanding of threats posed by climate change in the Gunnison Basin; 2) prioritize strategies and
techniques for helping people and nature cope with climate change; and 3) promote collaboration and effective
implementation of strategies.
The GCWG includes BLM; CNHP; CPW; Gunnison County; Gunnison County Stock Growers; LFVC; NCAR,
NPS; TNC; NRCS; TU; UGRWCD; USFS; USFWS; WSCU; WWA; and RMBL. In 2012 and 2013, we focused
on increasing the resilience of wet meadow/riparian systems to help them cope with projected impacts of
increased intensity and frequency of droughts and flooding associated with climate change. So far, GCWG has
restored 10.2 stream miles on USFS and BLM lands and on 3 private properties. Within these areas, 15.3
acres of wetland/meadow acres were restored. We have used techniques developed by Bill Zeedyk in "Let the
Water Do the Work" by installing drift fences and rock structures. Goals achieved included the following:
• Dispersed flows more widely across floodplain surfaces to maximize infiltration and increase bank storage
during flood events;
• Stabilized eroded wet meadow soils to control head cutting and reduce gully expansion thereby retaining
bank storage and extending base flows.
• Expanded the size, extent and distribution of riparian/wetland sites in response to objectives #1 and #2.
• Increased health, vigor and density of riparian/wetland vegetation, such as native sedges, rushes, wet-loving
grasses and forbs.
• In addition, we have used several communication methods, including video, fact sheets, website,
presentations at conferences and meetings, field trips, media and press releases, trainings and report to
disseminate information and to educate
Presented by Annie Little, USFWS. September 17, 2014.
Although islands represent only 5% of the earth’s land mass, they are home of 40% of the world’s endangered species. The removal of invasive species from islands is a powerful tool for conserving and protecting unique island species. Island eradication projects often face formidable biological, logistical, and social challenges. This presentation will highlight the eradication of black rats (Rattus rattus) from Anacapa Island, California, in 2001–2002.This project was the first invasive rodent eradication from an entire island where an endemic rodent was present and the first aerial application of a rodenticide in North America. We will discuss the planning considerations and mitigation strategies that were incorporated to reduce impacts to non-target species. Now, 12 years after the successful implementation of the project, pre and post-project monitoring data show significant positive benefits of the rat removal. In particular, a rare seabird named the Scripps’s murrelet (Synthiboramphus scrippsi) has shown a remarkable positive response.
Presented by: Christopher A. May, Restoration Director of Michigan, The Nature Conservancy. October 17, 2013.
Erie Marsh Preserve in western Lake Erie includes 945 acres of Great Lakes coastal marsh within a system of dikes constructed during the 1950s. This project will ultimately restore and enhance the 945 acres of coastal wetlands in 10 units through the construction or improvement of dikes, distribution canals, water control structures, and the installation of a new water supply system and fish passage structure. The fish passage structure will restore a hydrologic and physical connection between Lake Erie and the managed dike portion of Erie Marsh Preserve. The diked wetlands are also critically important for spring, fall, and winter staging, feeding, and resting of waterfowl and other wildlife, as well as home to unique plants. The improved infrastructure will provide capacity for long-term, adaptive management of a high-quality coastal wetland complex and control of invasive Phragmites. Pre- and post-restoration monitoring includes water quality, fish, birds, herpetofauna, and vegetation. Project partners include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Erie Shooting and Fishing Club.
Presented by Damo Goodman, USFWS. February 18, 2015.
To combat decades of anthropogenic degradation, restoration programs seek to improve ecological conditions through habitat enhancement. Rapid assessments of condition are needed to support adaptive management programs and improve the understanding of restoration effects at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Previous attempts to evaluate restoration practices on large river systems have been hampered by assessment tools that are irreproducible or metrics without clear connections to population responses. We modified a demonstration flow assessment approach to assess the realized changes in habitat quantity and quality attributable to restoration effects. We evaluated the technique’s ability to predict anadromous salmonid habitat and survey reproducibility on the Trinity River in northern California. Fish preference clearly aligned with a priori designations of habitat quality: the odds of observing rearing Chinook Salmon or Coho Salmon within high quality habitats ranged between 10 and 16 times greater than low qualities, and in all cases the highest counts were associated with highest quality habitat. In addition, the technique proved to be reproducible with “substantial” to “almost perfect” agreement of results from independent crews; a considerable improvement over a previous demonstration flow assessment. The technique is now being implemented to assess changes in habitat from restoration efforts at several scales and inform adaptive management decisions.
Expanding living shorelines within the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to protect habitat and to reduce climate change vulnerability through the application of collaborative science-based habitat restoration (00:56:08)
Presented by Dr. Peter Kingsley-Smith, South Carolina DNR. March 12, 2014.
In the summer of 2012 the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was successful in acquiring a substantial 2-year Federal grant from the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Science Collaborative funding opportunity. The overall goal of this project is to address the local management problem shoreline loss through erosional processes that are likely to be exacerbated under scenarios of future global climate change-driven sea level rise. This project is intended to increase the resiliency of critical ecological communities to climate change-driven sea level rise by creating living shorelines in the form of intertidal oyster reefs (Crassostrea virginica) that restore habitat, reduce erosion, improve water quality, and creating ever-growing, sustainable breakwaters to protect shorelines in an era of sea level rise. Abundant wild populations of oysters in South Carolina produce very high rates of recruitment, such that the provision of suitable substrate at intertidal elevations can rapidly lead to the establishment of new oyster reef habitat. Researchers at the SCDNR have a wealth of experience utilizing a variety of both natural and artificial substrates (e.g., shell bags, oyster castles, crab traps, loose shell) and techniques for conducting habitat restoration and enhancement that they have been able to bring to this project through their role as the applied science team. This presentation will highlight stakeholder involvement, site selection processes, reef building achievements and challenges in year 1 and an outline of planned events for the months to come prior to the conclusion of this project in the summer of 2014.
Presented by Laura Warman, Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry. September 24, 2014.
As novel assemblages of native and non-native species become increasingly common globally, many conservation and restoration efforts have concentrated on the removal of exotic (and often invasive) species. However, in some cases, removing non-native species is no longer economically or ecologically feasible. This is the case in Hawai’i, where more than half of the plants on the archipelago are exotic and where novel forests currently dominate the remaining areas of lowland wet forest. Furthermore, while there are many invasive plants species in Hawaii, some exotic species are thought to be providing important ecosystem goods and services (including benefits to native species). How can we keep native species in the lowland forests and maintain ecosystem goods and services, while minimizing the negative effects of invasive species? We suggest an approach similar to fantasy football, where ‘teams’ of species are picked to work together form self-sustaining units which maximize benefits for native biodiversity, carbon sequestration and sustainable forest structure. We based our choices of ‘players’ on functional trait characteristics of both native and non-native species, and on functional diversity indices from existing novel forests with varying degrees of domination by exotic species.
Presented By: Chris Hammersmark - Chris Hammersmark, CBEC Inc., Eco Engineering. June 21, 2018.
Butano Creek is a flashy, coastal stream draining 23 mi2 of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. Land use and channel management practices in the last two centuries have doubled sediment input, disconnected channels from their floodplains and riparian forests through incision, eliminated floodplain sediment storage and led to flooding issues in the lower watershed. Incision and floodplain disconnection not only eliminated sediment storage in the valley, but also transformed floodplain storage areas into sources substantially contributing to elevated sediment loads. Removal of large wood, channel incision, and floodplain disconnection are the primary causes of a significant reduction in the complexity and function of habitats that are home to a number of sensitive and ESA-listed species. Channel change and sediment budget analyses revealed that, historically, the lowland valley functioned as a wet meadow and included an extensive well-connected floodplain that provided diverse habitats. The lowland floodplain also provided sediment storage upstream of the Pescadero estuary, which is key nursery habitat for anadromous fish species. With funding from the Urban Streams Restoration Program, a project was implemented in summer 2016 that reconnects the floodplain and riparian forest ecosystem along a mile reach of Butano Creek, restoring approximately 100 acres, or ~10%, of the historical floodplain. Project elements include a roughened channel/rock ramp grade control structure, two constructed engineered log jams, two jams constructed by induced recruitment of live bankside alders into the channel, and bankside berm breaches. These project features roughen the channel, force channel aggradation, and increase floodplain inundations and sediment deposition. Analysis of the monitoring results of the first flood season have been completed and include channel bed and floodplain morphology (via ground-based LiDAR), channel habitat type, groundwater level changes and floodplain inundation/off-channel habitat increase.
Restoration of Texas Hill Country landscapes frequently starts with an attempt to replace dominant invasive grasses with palatable native grasses that have been reduced or eliminated through cattle grazing. Woody and perennial forb species which were degraded by extensive goat browsing from the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s and are currently unable to recover under existing white-tailed deer population high herbivory pressures. Successful reestablishment of these palatable species is a more difficult and long-range project.
Environmental Survey Consulting has developed a restoration process model for Spicewood Ranch and other projects over the past three decades. This model emphasizes restoration of depleted browse species through a combination of reduction of the deer population while incrementally increasing available restored browse species. We have developed a planting sequence of browse species based on their palatability and, therefore, their ability to survive when introduced over years in synchrony with gradual reduction of browse pressure. We have developed this sequence through numerous experiments and field trials using controlled burns, juniper removal, deer reduction, high fencing, wild seed harvesting, seeding, exotic species control, woody plant germination trials and deer exclosures. An evolving list of 150 forbs and woody species guides our site analyses of deer browse levels, restoration reintroduction attempts and landscape plantings.
Presented by Sean Blomquist and Daniel Wood, USFWS. August 20, 2015.
Approximately 2.4 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) lands are impacted by invasive plants, which are the primary challenge for NWR habitat management in the Central Hardwood Region. In 2011 we developed the components of a decision structure that are being used to adaptively manage 42 forest invasive plant species on six National Wildlife Refuges in southern Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. We used structured decision making to identify and refine the management problem, objectives, and alternative management actions, and to assess consequences and tradeoffs among selected management alternatives. During this process, we developed an objectives hierarchy with clearly stated objectives to help us link our monitoring with those objectives. Our fundamental ecological objectives were to 1) preserve biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health and 2) improve habitat for migratory birds and species listed under the Endangered Species Act. We addressed the problem at two scales, the refuge scale and a management grid scale (1 ha), and formalized a step-by-step process for prioritizing actions at the refuge scale and applying management actions at the grid scale. Both inventory and monitoring has provided a feedback loop to inform future management. Additionally, the grid-scale model has allowed formal learning about the effectiveness of management actions. We demonstrate our approach using inventory data collected in 2013-2014 from Crab Orchard NWR (31.8 km2), and inventory and management action data from Muscatatuck NWR (30.9 km2) during 2011-2014.
Presented by Dr. Craig Palmer, co-chair of the Interagency Ecological Restoration Quality Committee. January 26, 2017.
What is the quality of your ecological data? In ecological restoration projects, reliable data are needed to track the progress of a project toward stated restoration goals, determine the appropriateness of restoration techniques, guide future project management within an adaptive management framework, and provide evidence of restoration success to help secure future funding. However, ecological data often are considered as qualitative or semi-quantitative at best when compared to other more traditional types of data collection involving laboratory analysis. In this webinar, Dr. Palmer will share approaches and lessons learned for improving and documenting the quality of ecological data collected for projects. He will use case studies to illustrate approaches and innovations for improving data quality and reliability. He will describe how to improve data quality during specific phases of a project such as project planning and preparation for the field season, quality checks during the field season, and data review
after the field season. Ecological restoration practitioners, decision makers, and field personnel, will benefit from real world examples for improving data reliability in their restoration projects.
Dr. Palmer is co-chair of the Interagency Ecological Restoration Quality Committee currently developing quality assurance approaches for the collection of ecological data for restoration projects in the Great Lakes Region. He has developed quality assurance systems for international, national, regional, and local research and monitoring programs.
Presented by Robert Brumbaugh, Director of Ocean Planning & Protection, Global Oceans Team & Bryan DeAngelis, Marine Habitat Scientist, Program Coordinator for North America. February 17, 2017.
Oysters aren't just tasty. They provide important ecosystem services to our coasts, improving water quality and clarity, protecting shoreline from waves and erosion, and all the while creating essential habitat for fish to feed and grow. It's for these reasons that The Nature Conservancy is working to restore oysters alongside our partners and nearly 20,000 volunteers in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, with the aim of restoring the ecosystem services that they provide for people and nature. Today, oyster reefs are now the most imperiled marine habitat on Earth; some 85 percent have disappeared over the past two centuries. So in terms of defining and setting oyster restoration goals for successful conservation in a particular estuary or bay, how much is enough?
In 2010, the Conservancy began working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and a large group of shellfish, marine and fisheries scientists, to develop the science and tools to determine how many oysters would be needed to filter water in a given estuary or bay or how many are needed to produce a desired increase in fish. Of course, figuring this out requires a lot of math that involves a lot of different input and parameters, which is why one of the tools that was produced was an online oyster calculator that makes it easier on those who are planning or implementing restoration projects. The partners also recently published an accompanying Manager's Guide to assist natural resource managers and restoration practitioners in making the case for oyster restoration and in setting quantitative objectives for restoring oyster reefs at an estuary, or bay-wide scale.
Join us as we review these new tools, including a review of the background of the development of the oyster restoration goal setting tool and manager’s guide, a live demo of the online oyster calculator, and review of several real world restoration examples that demonstrate how the tool can be used.
Bryan DeAngelis is the Marine Habitat Specialist and North America Coastal Habitat Restoration Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy. Prior to that, Bryan worked for NOAA conducting coastal habitat restoration.
Rob Brumbaugh is an ocean scientist with The Nature Conservancy's Global Marine Team, with 20 years of experience int he field of ocean conservation and management. He leads the Conservancy's global strategy for Integrated Ocean Management and Mapping Ocean Wealth.
Presented by David Ross, Department of Interior, Marko Bey, Lomakatsi Restoration Project and CalLee Davenport, USFWS. January 22, 2014.
In August of 2010, a formal partnership was established between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Lomakatsi Restoration Project, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Klamath Bird Observatory (KBO), and multiple other state and federal agency partners, and conservation organizations to expand oak habitat restoration on private lands in Douglas and Jackson Counties in Oregon, and in Siskiyou County in California. This webinar will discuss the ongoing partnership to restore oak woodlands and savannas along the California-Oregon border, an umbrella habitat for a suite of neotropical birds and listed T&E plants.
Presented by Jeff Hastings, Trout Unlimited. March 24, 2016.
Each year federal, state and county conservation agencies spend millions of dollars to stabilize stream banks and create habitat for trout. However, past stream restoration projects in the upper Midwest have often failed to incorporate habitat for non-game species such as snakes, frogs, turtles, and birds, primarily because of a lack of knowledge about those species’ habitat needs. In the Driftless Area (southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois) conservationists are planning projects that improve water quality and riparian habitat while implementing these projects in a way that benefits multiple non-game species. Trout Unlimited has been working with non-game biologists and stream restoration specialists to determine when and design where habitat for non-game species would be beneficial. Since the development of a habitat guide, county, state, federal and nonprofits have completed over forty projects that have incorporated features for non-game species.
Participants attending this presentation will be introduced to a host of best management practices designed for non-game species, and learn about funding opportunities, the project review process and ongoing monitoring efforts.
Large-Scale Coastal Tidal Marsh and Barrier Beach Restoration at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge - Recovering from Hurricane Sandy and Building Resilience in Former Freshwater Impoundments (01:02:34)
Presented by Bartholomew Wilson, Coastal Resiliency Coordinator and Susan Guiteras, Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Coastal Delaware NWR Complex, USFWS. June 8, 2017.
Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the Delaware Bay, has been facing substantial management challenges in wetlands previously managed as coastal freshwater impoundments. Although once salt marshes, these impounded wetlands were altered by surrounding land use and eventually converted to freshwater impoundments in the 1980’s as habitat for migratory birds. Beginning in 2008, a series of storms led to dramatic overwash and saltwater intrusion into the impoundments through two shoreline breaches, a subsequent collapse of wetland vegetation, and conversion of large areas to open water. Hurricane Sandy further exacerbated the situation, creating two additional breaches in the wetland shoreline and additional wetland collapse. The refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan set forth an ambitious plan for proactive tidal marsh restoration in 4000 acres of the former freshwater impoundment complex. Hydrodynamic modeling utilizing extensive local water level and salinity data was used to design a marsh restoration plan with two phases. The Shoreline Recovery Phase of the project involves closing the large dune breaches using material dredged from a nearby offshore borrow area. This will also create a back barrier marsh platform where vegetation will be planted. The Coastal Marsh Resilience Phase of the marsh restoration project involves the creation of a network of over 30 miles of historic tidal channels throughout the wetland complex to improve circulation and distribution of salinity and sediment. Material that is dredged during this process will be sprayed directly from the channels into unvegetated areas to improve marsh elevation capital. This restoration work began in June 2015 and was completed in the spring of 2016. A comprehensive data collection and restoration monitoring partnership has been in place with numerous state and academic partners since the wetland management challenges first arose, throughout ongoing restoration, and will continue into the future. Working with refuge staff, these partners are monitoring hydrology, water quality, sediment flux, vegetation response, breeding bird communities, fish communities and fish movement, and more. This marsh restoration project represents one of the largest such restoration projects ever on the east coast.
Presented by Stephanie Westby. May 23, 2019.
This webinar will be an overview of the collaborative Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration effort that NOAA, US Army Corps of Engineers, state natural resource management agencies in Maryland and Virginia, and several NGOs and academics have undertaken. Since 2011, the work has resulted in over 800 acres restored, and over $55 million has been spent. Discussion will include the process for pulling together partners behind a single large objective, tributary-scale goal setting, setting success criteria, science-driven planning, implementation, monitoring, and an overview of research related to the effort and lessons learned.
Presented by Gordon Peabody, Founder and Director, Safe Harbor Environmental. July 22, 2015.
Biomimicry is an innovative coastal restoration system. We have models showing this system in use in dune, barrier dune, beach and coastal bank habitats. Using a random matrix of 14-inch cedar shims to collect sand during storm winds, this system mimics the performance of native vegetation. Biomimicry can be useful in eroding areas unsuitable for immediate planting. As sand collects, the shims can be adjusted to control the dimensions of the restoration area. The system is most successful where there is eroding sand in motion. A barrier dune was restored 24 vertical feet, with an approximate cross section of 700 sq ft, during two storm seasons. Biomimicry also controls erosion by stabilizing bare areas and it has been documented collecting sand from wave over wash.
Presented by Lijuan Huang and Christopher Paternostro, NOAA. December 10, 2015.
As understanding has grown of the critical part wetlands play in the health of coastal areas; so has the
awareness of a critical need to both protect remaining wetlands and to begin a focused and coordinated effort
to restore lost wetlands. NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS),
partnering with other NOAA offices, USACE and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, developed Marsh
Analysis and Planning Tool Incorporating Tides and Elevations (MAPTITE) for coastal restoration planning.
MAPTITE is based on the premise that wetland plant communities are organized by their various tolerances to
frequency and duration of tidal inundation, which is mostly elevation dependent. This geospatial tool takes
advantage of this relationship to model specific plant communities given a measured elevation gradient at a
coastal wetland restoration or creation site. It is an ESRI ArcGIS add-in that aids in the selection of vegetation
types for different restoration elevations based on a combination of a digital elevation model (DEM), local tidal
datums, and wetland vegetation information. By delineating planting areas and providing point data that can be
uploaded to GPS receivers, MAPTITE allows users to accurately plant appropriate species during restoration,
promoting growth of native species in order to successfully create or restore ecosystem functions of the
marsh. The tool addresses a need of government, academic and coastal manager communities for coastal
Presented by Bryan DeAngelis, The Nature Conservancy . June 23, 2014,
The restoration of oyster reef and beds in the US has continued to increase in number and scale of projects in order to restore the services lost along with the oyster habitats. Despite this maturing of oyster restoration there remains a diversity of techniques and metrics chosen to demonstrate the success or failure of an individual project or technique. The diversity of techniques and metrics employed has made it difficult or impossible to regionally compare the success of the different approaches to oyster restoration around the US, or to evaluate larger regional performance or impact from multiple restoration projects. A coalition of restoration practitioners from the west, gulf and east coasts, led by members of the NOAA Restoration Center, The Nature Conservancy, the University of Southern Alabama and Florida Atlantic University has sought to overcome this difficulty by describing baseline monitoring metrics that will allow for basic comparison between projects as well as accommodate different restoration designs and site based constraints, as well developing guidelines for assessing optional restoration goal-based metrics. This presentation will focus on the Universal Metrics (i.e. those prescribed for every project) and discuss the multiple factors that need to be considered when creating universal metrics, and briefly outline the Restoration Goal-based Metrics presented in the manual. The presentation will also briefly discuss the next steps required by the restoration community to fully integrate adaptive management, and potential opportunities for accomplishing that.
Presented by Serena McClain, Director of American Rivers. December 18, 2013.
Over the past 100 years or so, more than 1,100 dams have been removed from rivers across the U.S. The story of these dams varies from failure of dilapidated, abandoned dams that were later cleared out of rivers to tiny three-foot weirs to a 1,200-foot long earthen behemoth. While some of these were removed before modern environmental laws even existed, the majority of these structures have been removed in the last fourteen years. Methods of removal vary almost as much as the size and type of dam removed, ranging from dams that were removed by hand in ecologically sensitive areas to dynamite to full-scale water diversions. This discussion will look at the reasons for this variability, focusing on the affect the regulatory environment can have on project implementation. To do this, we will examine state and federal regulatory environments and the common challenges faced when trying to get a restoration project permitted (while examples will focus on dam removal, both issues and advice apply to a broader category of river restoration). We will also examine what works and the states where regulatory agencies have developed tools and/or practices that foster successful restoration projects. The discussion will end with the top five tips for improving your state’s regulatory process.
Presented by Gregg Kearns, Paxtuent River Park, MD. December 11, 2014.
Well known for a fall spectacle of maturing wild rice (Zizania aquatica) and migrant waterbirds, the tidal freshwater marshes of the Patuxent River, Maryland, USA, experienced a major decline in wild rice during the 1990s. We conducted experiments in 1999 and 2000 with fenced exclosures and discovered herbivory by resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis). Grazing by geese eliminated rice outside exclosures, whereas protected plants achieved greater size, density, and produced more panicles than rice occurring in natural stands. The observed loss of rice on the Patuxent River reflects both the sensitivity of this annual plant to herbivory and the destructive nature of an overabundance of resident geese on natural marsh vegetation. Recovery of rice followed 2 management actions: hunting removal of approximately 3,700 geese during a 9-year period and reestablishment of rice through a large-scale fencing and planting program.
Presented by Jen Lyndal. September 28, 2017.
Over the last several decades, the relatively new field of ecological restoration has rapidly grown, both in number of projects and in number of practitioners. However, professional standards for practitioners are minimal at best, resulting in inconsistent project quality. As one way of addressing this problem the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) recently launched a new practitioner certification program to create a high professional standard for ecological restoration practitioners and practitioners-in-training throughout the world. The program offers two types of certification: Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (CERP) and Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner-in-Training (CERPIT). Certification is based on a combination of knowledge and experience, and also requires adherence to the SER code of ethics and an understanding of SER's foundational documents. Certification is valid for five years after approval and can be renewed if sufficient continuing education credits are earned. The continuing education requirement will encourage practitioners to regularly engage in and actively contribute to the advancement of the field of ecological restoration while also enhancing their skills and knowledge.
By promoting practitioner standards, SER hopes to improve ecological restoration and the associated benefits on the ground.
Certification will also have numerous other benefits:
1) individuals can improve their professional status through formal recognition of their training and experience,
2) academic institutions with ecological restoration degree programs can use the knowledge requirements to evaluate curricula so that graduates will have the core competencies specific to the field; and
3) employers, agencies, organizations, and the general public will benefit by easily being able to identify those practitioners who meet the high standard set by SER. You can find out more about the program benefits and requirements at http://www.ser.org/page/certification.
Jen Lyndall has more than 15 years of experience with natural resource damage assessments (NRDAs) and restoration of contaminated sediment sites. She has participated in all phases of restoration, including design, monitoring program development, construction oversight, evaluation and ecosystem valuation for potential NRDA credits. She is the co-founder, past-president, and board member of the Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter of the SER and Certification Program Coordinator.
Presented by Johan Gottgens, Professor and Associate Chair in the Dept. of Environmental Sciences and Patrick Lawrence, Professor and Chair in Dept. of Geography and Planning both from Univ. of Toledo. April 21, 2016.
Since 2005 the President’s Commission on the River at the University of Toledo has been engaged in a range of efforts to improve conditions along a 1,500 m section of the Ottawa River on the main campus. The river has a long legacy of environmental impacts from human activities, including industrialization and farming, resulting in significant habitat degradation due to water quality and sediment contamination issues. In recent years, after addressing many of the pollution sources, work has been underway to improve habitat conditions and functions to the river system. With funding from Ohio EPA and USFWS, a project was undertaken that involved the installation of in-stream habitat structures with the intent to improve aquatic conditions for fish and other biota. A total of eight major structures were added in the campus stretch of the river using a variety of designs employing wood and stone materials. Examples included lunkers, locked logs, bendway weirs and hydraulic cover stones. Even though urban rivers are often viewed as prime candidates for rehabilitation efforts, very little has been published on the effects of rehabilitation structures on a resident fish community. Using a before/after – control/impact study design, we predicted that rehabilitation would positively impact the fish community and habitat quality. Eight 20 m sites were selected; four control sites and four impacted sites, where structures were placed after 2013 baseline sampling. Each site was sampled twice during low water in the summers of 2013 and 2014. Fish community metrics, collected with seines and a backpack shocker, included species presence, diversity, richness, IBI and spawning condition. Habitat variables included Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI), sediment texture, water depth and flow and canopy cover. Fish community and habitat metrics were analyzed using poisson and linear models, respectively. In 2014, post-installation, fish abundance was greater in impacted sites than control sites (p<0.10). Similarly, 2014 QHEI scores were higher in impacted sites than those in control sites (p<0.05). Percent weight of coarse sands (0.5mm-2mm) decreased while fine sands (63μm- 0.5mm) increased across control sites in 2014 (p<0.001). Impacted sites in 2014 had greater percentages of fine sands than control sites in 2014 (p<0.05). The river on campus is now actively used for teaching and research. Fifty species of fish have already been documented for this stretch of the river, including Ohio sensitive species and a state listed species of concern. Future rehabilitation efforts should continue to consider improvements at a larger spatial scale such as management of storm water, non-native species, and floodplains.
Presented by Andrew Breibart, BLM. April 27, 2017.
The Gunnison Climate Working Group (GCWG) works to design and implement an on-the-ground climate adaptation project to retain water and enhance the resilience of riparian/wetland systems in light of climate change.
The GCWG comprises public agencies, academic institutions, and private organizations working to:
1) increase understanding of threats posed by climate change in the Gunnison Basin;
2) prioritize strategies and techniques for helping people and nature cope with climate change; and
3) promote collaboration and effective implementation of strategies.
The GCWG includes BLM; CNHP; CPW; Gunnison County; Gunnison County Stock Growers; LFVC; NCAR, NPS; TNC; NRCS; TU; UGRWCD; USFS; USFWS; WSCU; WWA; WCCC, and RMBL. Between 2012 and 2016, we focused on increasing the resilience of wet meadow/riparian systems to help them cope with projected impacts of increased intensity and frequency of droughts and flooding associated with climate change. So far, GCWG has restored between 35 and 50 acres of riparian/mesic meadow habitat on public, state and private lands. We have used techniques developed by Bill Zeedyk in "Let the Water Do the Work" by installing drift fences and rock structures and employing “plug and spread” techniques.
Goals achieved include the following:
• Dispersed flows more widely across floodplain surfaces to maximize infiltration and increase bank storage during flood events;
• Stabilized eroded wet meadow soils to control head cutting and reduce gully expansion thereby retaining bank storage and extending base flows.
• Expanded the size, extent and distribution of riparian/wetland sites in response to objectives #1 and #2.
• Increased health, vigor and density of riparian/wetland vegetation, such as native sedges, rushes, wet-loving grasses and forbs.
• In addition, we have used several communication methods to depict our story.
Presenter Andrew Breibart graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a MESM in 2001. His early work included employment with the Forest Service as a hydrologist, and he now works for the Bureau of Land Management as a Hydrologist. His projects include habitat restoration for fisheries and Gunnison sage-grouse, as well as climate change adaptation, grazing permit renewals, and road management.
Presented by Dr. Heath Rauschenberger, Karst and Cave Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. July 23, 2014.
The story of Lake Apopka is a familiar one to many Floridians and has gained international notoriety. The 12,500-ha lake was once a world-class bass fishery. Then, a century-long decline occurred, traced to the loss of over 8,000 ha of wetlands to farming operations, agricultural discharges laden with phosphorus to the lake, treated wastewater discharges, and input from citrus processing plants. The state of Florida and the Federal Government purchased the property with the goal of restoring the aquatic habitat. Shortly after flooding in the winter of 1998–1999, a bird mortality event occurred, resulting in the deaths of 676 birds, primarily American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), and also including 43 endangered wood storks (Mycteria americana), 58 great blue herons (Ardea herodias), and 34 great egrets (Casmerodius albus). The deaths of the birds, attributed to pesticide toxicosis, resulted in years of research and remediation to ensure the future safety of wildlife on the property. Presently, about 3,000 ha of wetlands have been rehydrated since resuming restoration activities, with no adverse effects to wildlife. This webinar will present the history of Lake Apopka, the efforts to restore it, and what we have learned along the way.
Presetned by Gerald Kauffman. November 30, 2017.
This webinar documents work completed under the terms of our FishAmerica Foundation grant for the White Clay Creek Shad Restoration Project (Removal of Dam No. 1). This work includes field studies, engineering design, and permit applications for the removal of White Clay Creek Dam No. 1 (RM 4.2) to reopen 3.5 miles of the creek for the passage of American shad and hickory shad in New Castle County, Delaware. This was the first dam removal project for fish passage in the entire State of Delaware. Removal of downstream-most Dam No. 1 along the White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River is the first and most critical step in a 5-year plan to remove an additional 6 upstream dams and reopen fish passage for 14 miles from tidewater inland to the Piedmont at the Delaware/Pennsylvania state line.
Presented by Sara Quintal, Restoration Ecologist, Buzzard’s Bay Coalition. October 12, 2017.
The Buzzards Bay Coalition has restored a 19-acre former industrial property that straddles the Acushnet River at the head of New Bedford Harbor in Southeastern Massachusetts. The site was purchased in 2007 because of its potential for conservation, restoration and public access. Phased restoration began with dam removal and installation of a nature-like fishway in 2007 through partnership with NOAA and the MA Department of Marine Fisheries. As a result, the River’s herring population has increased 27x since pre-restoration conditions. Further demolition continued over several years, including dismantling several buildings, removing more than 3 acres of impervious surface, taking down concrete river bank revetments and eliminating a bridge crossing. During 2014, the natural river bank and floodplain was restored, more than one acre of additional red maple swamp and freshwater marsh was created, buffering upland habitats were planted and invasive species have been managed. Drought and storm events proved challenging during construction, but informed critical design modifications that resulted in a more resilient restored channel and floodplain. The final design reconnects wildlife between the freshwater and estuarine portions of the river, and is tolerant of rapid fluctuations in water level. To enable the community’s exploration of the restored habitats, several amenities were constructed, including a natural-style canoe launch, board walks, wildlife overlooks, small visitor center and one mile of walking trails (nearly half of which are handicap-accessible). The site opened to the public in November 2015, reconnecting the surrounding urban communities with the River in a way that has never before been possible, and sees an average of 500 users each week throughout the year. Through our new Adopt-a-Reserve program, community volunteers help us monitor the property, expanding the capacity of our organization to manage this well-loved park.
Since 2011, Sara N. da Silva Quintal has managed the Buzzard’s Bay Coalition’s restoration projects. Her work includes restoration of the Acushnet Sawmill on the Acushnet River in Southcoast Massachusetts. Sara earned a B.S. in Marine Biology from Roger Williams University and holds an M.S. in Environmental Science from University of Rhode Island with a focus on watershed science and wetland ecology.
Presented by Judah Grossman, Project Director and Rodd Kelsey, Lead Scientist from the Nature Conservancy. September 3, 2015.
Presented by Lori A. Lilly, Project Manager, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's READY program; Sebastian R. Antonucci, Rain Garden Designer for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's READY program. July 7, 2016.
Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth (READY) is a unique program in Howard County, MD, that provides employment and professional development opportunities to young adults in the environmental sector. In the past four years, program efforts have resulted in the installation of over 100 rain gardens and conservation landscapes, treating over 10 acres of impervious surfaces through the employment of 130 seasonal positions. The program is rapidly evolving to include a broader range of best management practices, more focus on maintenance, increased self-reliance and internal capacity building, and becoming, overall, an integrated part of the local environmental and socio-economic landscape. This webinar will provide highlights, challenges and lessons learned from this successful and model program.
Presented by Sarah Walsh, NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation Natural Heritage Trust and Beth Rossler, Hudson River Estuary Program and NY State Water Resources Institute Cormell University. December 2016.
This webinar will present New York State’s Trees for Tributaries program, a program engaging local volunteers and local partners to restore New York’s riparian areas. The program works in concert with New York State’s Saratoga Tree Nursery, who helps provide trees at low or no cast to program participants. We will highlight specific case studies illustrating how the program has successfully planted over 66,000 trees in the ground in less than ten years. We will discuss program successes and challenges, as well as future developments to prioritize our work across the state as a model for how state agencies, municipalities and non-profits can partner to improve water quality and wildlife habitat through stream buffer restoration plantings.
Sarah Walsh, NY State Department of Environmental Conservation/Natural Heritage Trust, has nearly 10 years’ experience working for environmental non-profit organizations. She is the Trees for Tributaries Statewide Coordinator.
Beth Roessler is the Stream Buffer Coordinator for the Hudson River Estuary Program and New York State Water Resources Institute, Cornell University. Beth has coordinated the Trees for Tribs program in the Hudson River Estuary watershed since 2011.
Presented by Melissa McMaster, Plant Biologist, Grand Canyon National Park. May 7, 2014.
Granite Camp is a very popular site for backcountry and river users in Grand Canyon National Park and like many areas along the Colorado River corridor, it has been adversely impacted by the operations of Glen Canyon Dam, high recreational use and the introduction of non-native plants species, particularly tamarisk. In 2009, the northern tamarisk beetle arrived in the park and it has been successfully defoliating the tamarisk growing along the river. The presence of the beetle may result in widespread mortality of tamarisk and possibly adverse effects on the riparian ecosystem and visitor experience. The objectives of this project were to test various methods of riparian restoration, enhance wildlife habitat and enrich the overall visitor experience at the site. Crews removed tamarisk trees from the site and then replanted the area with a suite of native trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses to create a diverse and functioning ecosystem. This was the first large scale attempt at restoration along the river and various methods of plant propagation and collection were tested. The results of this pilot project will help to assess the feasibility and practicality of proactively planting native species at other remote sites along the river that are currently dominated by tamarisk.
Presented by Jenny Baker and Julie Morse, The Nature Conservancy. December 2, 2014.
The Nature Conservancy’s Fisher Slough and Port Susan Bay estuary restoration projects in northern Puget Sound, Washington, were planned and implemented in collaboration with local communities to include project elements that provided non-ecological benefits such as jobs, reduced flood risk and updated flood protection and drainage infrastructure. The multiple community benefits approach used at these two sites has now been widely embraced in Puget Sound as evidenced by a $33M investment by the state for additional multiple benefit projects that will significantly increase the scale of Puget Sound recovery.
This presentation will focus on the approach used and benefits gained at the two project sites, as well as the Puget Sound-wide “Coordinated Investment” project that was recently funded by Washington State.
Presented by Cari Press and Paul Powers, U.S. Forest Service. May 11, 2017.
While process-based river restoration provides the largest hydrogeomorphic and habitat benefits (Cluer and Thorne 2013, Kondolf 2009, Montgomery 2008, Pollock et al. 2014), relatively few restoration projects are designed to account for and promote watershed processes. Traditionally, stream restoration projects have included form-based approaches that involved bank stabilization, habitat structure placement, and grade-control, which were engineered to efficiently transport bankfull flow and sediment by maintaining a balanced single-thread channel pattern, profile and dimension. While this approach may be necessary in project areas constrained by infrastructure, it can limit habitat development in unconstrained areas. In contrast, the intent of process-based restoration is to reestablish natural channel processes such deposition, substrate sorting, avulsion, and scour that allow the system to be dynamic and more resilient. Restoring these processes provides complex, diverse aquatic and terrestrial habitat and encourages continual development of this habitat as the system responds to watershed disturbances. Examples of recent process-based restoration projects in Oregon will be shown in this webinar to illustrate these points, provide design techniques, and share some of the challenges of this approach.
In 2000, Cari Press began working as a hydrologist for the Forest Service in the Pacific northwest. Since 2007, she has been designing and implementing multi-partner, large-scale restoration projects both on and off-Forest. Paul Powers began working on stream/watershed rehabilitation projects in 1995 on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Paul serves on the Forest Service’s Region 6 Restoration Assistance Team and is a cadre member responsible for leading the Service’s annual NR20 Workshop.
Presented by Dr. Janine Castro, USFWS. October 16, 2014.
Do you find yourself trying to describe “how streams work” or “why streams meander” to a landowner or the public? If so, this webinar is for you. While the questions are simple, the answers are complex. This webinar will provide you with a framework and a conceptual model so that you are prepared to answer these tough questions.
Stream restoration is all about managing stream energy – how it is dissipated, in what form and where. How the energy is dissipated is the key to understanding stream responses, such as bank erosion and channel incision, especially in terms of stream management.
Presented by Beth Lambert, Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration and Cathy Bozek, The Nature Conservancy. February 11, 2014.
The Taunton River in Massachusetts sustains regionally significant runs of river herring. Tributaries to the Taunton River, many of which are fed by high quality streams, natural ponds, and intact wetlands, have the potential to support herring populations of hundreds of thousands of fish. Yet, many major tributaries are blocked by dams. The Mill River is one such tributary: four dams within close proximity to each other blocked river herring from accessing more than 30 miles of tributary and mainstem habitat and 400+ acres of natural and artificial pond. In 2007, a large partnership of federal, state, local, and NGO organizations began working together to remove three dams and build a fish ladder at a fourth dam. Although the four dams were in close proximity to each other, each had a unique combination of technical, cultural, or legal challenges that stood in the way of removing the barrier. This presentation 1) presents the overall project setting and project objectives; 2) highlights the major challenge/solution for each barrier; and 3) shares preliminary results from each completed barrier removal. Challenges examined in detail include a) cost-effective approaches to managing highly contaminated sediment; b) negotiating with a large company to remove a small dam; c) inserting restoration goals into complex bridge and dam construction projects.
Presented by Karen Thorne, USGS Western Ecological Research Center and Evyan Sloane, State Coastal Conservancy in California . March 15, 2018.
Coastal wetlands around the world are threatened by sea-level rise (SLR). While current research demonstrates that many, but not all, wetlands in California are keeping pace with SLR via sediment accretion, this resiliency is expected to only resist SLR projections for 2030 and likely 2050. To ensure wetland resilience for 2100 and beyond, wetland management must incorporate a range of tools at various scales. At the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), one such tool - thin-layer sediment augmentation – is currently being tested. The pilot project, which was initiated in January 2016, is the first thin-layer sediment application project to be conducted in coastal salt marsh on the West Coast. This pilot project is intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of thin layer sediment application as a sea-level rise adaptation tool for ensuring the long-term preservation of coastal salt marsh habitat along the California coast, while also addressing Refuge-specific issues related to subsidence of the marsh and the consequences of subsidence on the Refuge’s lightfooted Ridgway’s rail (Rallus obsoletus levipes) population.
The Refuge, which protects 748 acres of what remains of the historical Anaheim Bay marsh complex, is currently experiencing elevated rates of SLR (~3Xs higher than other California wetlands; 6.23 mm/yr) due to subsidence. Long term observations indicate that these higher inundation frequencies are compromising the quality of the Refuge’s low-elevation (Spartina-dominated) salt marsh habitat. Strategies for addressing these concerns were first presented in the Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan, prepared in 2012. The U.S. Geological Survey then conducted extensive subsidence monitoring, SLR modeling, and scenario planning working with the landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Navy. This collaboration of science and management provided the necessary support for the USFWS and Navy to choose a novel SLR adaptation strategy that had never been implemented on the west coast. The Seal Beach Sediment Augmentation Project (Project) is a model example of science stimulating and informing management actions.
The Project has also demonstrated the need for robust monitoring in testing novel SLR adaptation strategies. The Project has begun an expansive pre- and post-construction monitoring program measuring elements such as elevation changes (i.e. real time kinematic GPS surveys, sediment elevation tables, and photogrammetry), sediment accretion (short and long-term), carbon sequestration, and responses to the added sediment by salt marsh vegetation, birds, invertebrates, and eelgrass. The results and lessons learned during and following sediment application are being shared both within California and among a national community of practice trying to address SLR through novel, resilient means.
Dr. Karen Thorne is a Principle Investigator with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center where she focuses on climate change impacts to ecosystems, particularly in assessing sea-level rise and storms impacts to nearshore ecosystems, wetland ecology and wildlife.
Evyan Sloane is a Project Manager with the State Coastal Conservancy in California where she works on sea-level rise adaptation and estuary restoration in southern California.
Presented by Peter M. Groffman, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. February 12, 2015.
Riparian areas are “hotspots” of plant-soil-water-microbial-human interactions in watersheds. Urban land use change has been shown to have dramatic effects on these interactions altering “connections” between streams, riparian zones, upland ecosystems and people. Efforts to restore urban riparian zone need to focus on reestablishing these connections. Geomorphic stream restoration designed to reverse structural degradation can restore biogeochemical functions but also considering the “human element” create positive feedbacks between ecological restoration and human preferences that can be key for achieving specific biological, chemical and social goals in urban and suburban watersheds. In this talk I will highlight results from research on the bio-geo-socio chemistry of urban riparian zones in the National Science Foundation funded Baltimore urban Long Term Ecological Research Project and discuss relevance and applications of this work in more arid regions.
Presented by Eric Ellis and Ashley Moerke. February 7, 2019.
The St. Marys River is a unique water body connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron with a binational channel. In 1987, the river was designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) due to pollution and habitat alteration. The river is listed for multiple Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) under the AOC program including two related to Fish and Wildlife Populations and Habitat. In 1992, the Soo Area Sportsmen’s Club initiated planning to restore the Little Rapids section of the St. Marys River and remove the habitat related BUIs. Over time, a variety of local, state, and federal partners participated in the locally driven, and occasionally contentious, restoration project. Project construction was completed in 2017 and resulted in the following: 1. Removal of a causeway that blocked natural water flow. 2. Construction of a bridge that restored free flow of water to historic rapids. 3. Improved aquatic connection and fish passage in the Little Rapids area. 4. Better fishing, recreation, and tourism opportunities for the community. 5. Action toward the removal of the Area of Concern designation. Approximately 70 acres of aquatic habitat were restored while providing safe pedestrian access for fishing and replacing a critical piece of infrastructure for residents. The project has restored foraging, spawning, and nursery habitat for a wide variety of sport fish (including lake sturgeon, whitefish, and salmon) as well as other aquatic organisms needed for a healthy river system. Pre and post construction monitoring is being coordinated by the Lake Superior State University Aquatic Research Lab and focuses on water velocity, benthos diversity, and the fish community. This habitat and infrastructure project was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the NOAA-Great Lakes Commission Areas of Concern Regional Partnership. The presenters will highlight the details of the project planning and implementation as well the up-to-date results of the monitoring program.
Presented by Mariben E. Andersen. July 26, 2018.
As part of mitigation for unavoidable wetland impacts associated with the construction of the Merritt Island Airport runway safety area (RSA) improvements and shoreline restoration/stabilization in Brevard County, several restoration efforts were incorporated into a complex mitigation plan. This consisted of the creation of an island for seagrass, enhancement a 23-acre wetland with a mosquito impoundment and removal of four derelict vessels from the Indian River Lagoon. The wetland mosquito impoundment was hydrologically connected to the river with two pipes with a control cover for managing when water enters the wetland. Exotic species were removed from the wetland and native wetland plants including buttonwood and mangroves were planted. A 1-acre island was created in the Banana River (part of the Indian River Lagoon), to grow seagrass. Sediment core samples were taken where seagrass dominated by Halodule wrightii, thrived at the end of the runway, the impact area to determine the soil composition. Although not required, the Halodule in the impact area was harvested, stored and nurtured at a nursery in Ruskin. Clean dirt was used to fill a deep hole in the river next to the Airport. The banks of the island were reinforced with coir mat for stability and the top 12 inches of the island was required to have the same soil composition as the seagrass impact area. The top 12 inches of the seagrass impact area was harvested and spread over the top of the new island. This included benthic invertebrate and seagrass rhizomes. The island was designed to have 12-18 inches of water. Construction of the island was completed and the harvested seagrass that was kept in the nursery. As part of a collaborative effort among the airport owner, Titusville Cocoa Airport Authority (TCAA), Brevard Zoo, and several concerned citizens, the seagrass was planted on the island in September 2016. To protect the seagrass plantings from herbivory from the manatee, sea turtles, fish and other grazers, protective devices or cylindrical cages with weights at the bottom were installed. The planted seagrass sediment was injected with a sub-aqueous growth enhancing non-eutrophying formula that contained vitamins and hormones to promote rhizome growth. The cages were cleaned monthly to maintain light and water flow.. Through a partnership between TCAA and Florida Institute of Technology, biology students monitor fish at the wetland mosquito impoundment and monitor seagrass at the seagrass island twice a year. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew shifted the sand burying some of the seagrass. The buried seagrass shot new blades through the thin layer of sand. The island was named after a local environmental advocate, Rodney Thompson on March 2017. In July 2017, almost 80 percent of the entire island was covered with healthy seagrass. Two months later, Hurricane Irma arrived and decimated the island but left healthy rhizomes intact. Hurricane Irma eroded the eastern shoreline at the wetland mosquito impoundment but majority of the buttonwood survived. Mangroves were replanted along the eastern shoreline in May 2018. Today, despite the algal blooms in the river, the seagrass in the Rodney Thompson Island is thriving.
Presented by Shaun Howard, The Nature Conservancy. July 21, 2016.
The Great Lakes contain the world's largest freshwater dune system, totaling 275,000 acres of perched, parabolic, and linear dunes with the majority of these ecosystems located throughout Eastern Lake Michigan. The nearshore dunal area provides critical habitat to nearly 10% of Michigan’s species of concern, while also playing a key role in Michigan's growing eco-tourism economy through the numerous recreation and quality of life benefits it offers. Unfortunately, Eastern Lake Michigan also faces the ongoing threat of habitat degradation, with one of the largest factors being the introduction and proliferation of terrestrial invasive plant species. Since 2007 the Michigan Dune Alliance has implemented landscape-scale invasive plant control across over 500 miles of Eastern Lake Michigan shoreline. These management efforts encompass three control strategies, suppression, control, and eradication, implemented over 36,000 acres of public, private, and conserved coastal land in Eastern Lake Michigan. Future efforts include creating a healthy set of "semi-contiguous" natural areas, incorporating Lake Michigan Island management, and exporting lessons learned to other Great Lakes coastlines.
Shaun Howard is a graduate of Michigan State University, Shaun Howard joined The Nature Conservancy in 2010 to implement invasive species control in the dunes of Northwest Lower Michigan. His current position is Eastern Lake Michigan Project Manager, aligning dune and associated coastal ecosystem restoration efforts of The Conservancy and other Michigan Dune Alliance partners along all 500 miles of Eastern Lake Michigan shoreline.
Presented by Drs. Beth Hahn and Peter Landres, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, USDA Forest Service. June 1, 2014.
This webinar will present a draft framework for evaluating and deciding whether to approve proposals for ecological restoration inside designated wilderness. The intent of this framework is to improve transparency in how these decisions weigh and balance the need for restoration and preserving wilderness character.
Presented by Chris Bowles. October 28, 2018.
Stream systems that once flowed through pristine and natural environments less than 200 years ago in California are now often heavily impaired due to anthropogenic disturbance. Rapid urbanization, particularly over the last 75 years, has dramatically changed the hydrologic environment in towns and cities, resulting in hydromodification impacts on the geomorphology and ecology of these stream systems. Water quality has deteriorated significantly and invasive plants and animals have infested waterways. Management practices imported from Europe, via the eastern and central USA, over the last 150 years or more, including single focus flood control, have resulted in the conditions we see today.
Urban stream restoration, or rehabilitation, has gained increasingly closer attention as communities have realized that streams are important elements of a healthy society and are not just open channel, urban sewers. Restoration is potentially a misnomer; it is difficult, if not impossible to “restore” urban streams to a pre-disturbance conditions. Urbanization is not likely to be removed in the future and hence the forcing functions acting on urban streams need to be managed under the new conditions. Thus, the terms rehabilitation or reconciliation are perhaps better representations of management of streams for the new conditions.
Through urban rehabilitation streams can be transformed into more resilient systems, better capable of withstanding changes in hydrology, geomorphology and fluvial forces. Hence, ecological responses and water quality can be improved. Non-native invasion can be minimized. However, none of this is simple and requires a thorough understanding of the forcing functions, as well as a sound appreciation of physical processes and ecological response. Through this webinar the fundamental elements of the effects of urbanization are presented, including hydromodification, with corresponding rehabilitation processes and techniques. Challenges are highlighted, as well as failures and remedial actions. Two case studies are presented from heavily urbanized areas is Sacramento, California. A summary is provided of potential “pitfalls” and reconciliation approaches.
Presented by Jenny Davis, Ecologist, NOAA/NCCOS, Beaufort, NC. March 8, 2018.
Thin layer application of dredged sediments can increase the elevation capital of low-lying marshes, making them more resilient to future sea level rise. Predictions of increasing future rates of sea level rise and resultant marsh drowning have led to burgeoning interest in the use of this technique. To support wider-scale adoption of thin layer placement as a management practice, there is an urgent need for monitoring data and lessons learned from current projects. We describe results to-date from a recently implemented thin layer experiment in North Carolina. The project involved placement of 5-10 cm of sediment in triplicate 24 m2 plots. Sediment placement was completed in April of 2017. Since that time, we have monitored marsh surface elevation, vegetation, fish utilization and porewater concentrations of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfide concentrations in treatment, control and reference plots. Treatment plots have consistently demonstrated greater elevation, Spartina stem density/height/% cover and porewater N in bimonthly sampling. This experiment is unique in that it involves plots that are large enough to negate “container” effects, but small enough to allow for replication and thus for statistical analysis of outcomes.
Jenny Davis is an Ecologist at the NOAA/NCCOS laboratory in Beaufort NC. Her broad research interests include plant ecology and biogeochemistry of coastal wetlands with a specific focus on how wetlands adapt to changing sea levels.
Presented by Eric Richer, Aquatic Research Scientist, Colorado Parks and Wildlife. December 7, 2017.
In-stream habitat restoration was conducted during 2013-2014 to rehabilitate and enhance aquatic habitat for a five mile reach of the Upper Arkansas River.
Primary goals of the restoration project were to
(1) increase trout population density and biomass including improvement in body condition and fish health and
(2) improve age and size class structure by increasing spawning areas and providing refugia for juvenile trout.
To achieve these goals, the project design focused on stabilizing stream banks to reduce erosion and downstream sedimentation, developing diverse stream morphology to enhance aquatic habitat, and creating overhead cover for trout. The effectiveness of habitat restoration is being evaluated through a combination of biological and physical monitoring over a ten-year period. The monitoring program was designed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the project, with a specific focus on the effectiveness of various habitat and restoration treatments. Physical monitoring and habitat modeling are being used to evaluate changes in geomorphology and habitat suitability. Rapid assessment is being utilized to evaluate the integrity and function of instream structures. Due to the legacy of mining activities in the watershed, heavy metal concentrations are being monitored through routine water quality sampling. Biological monitoring will assess impacts to riparian vegetation, fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, and tree swallows using a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) study design. This presentation will provide an overview of the restoration project and long-term monitoring program. Results from this study will be used to inform adaptive management and maintenance activities, as well as design of future restoration projects and monitoring programs.
Eric Richer is an Aquatic Research Scientist at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He completed B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist at Kansas State University in 2001 and received a M.S. in Watershed Science from Colorado State University in 2009. He currently works on a variety of research projects throughout Colorado related to stream restoration and fish passage.
Presented by Mateo Scoggins, City of Austin, TX. September 24, 2015.
Riparian zones in urban systems are critical and complex transition zones between human use and basic ecological function, historically with the former driving land management practices. Twenty years of intensive stream and reservoir monitoring have demonstrated very clearly the variety of water quality and quantity problems that urbanization and climate change brings. Biologists and ecologists with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department have pulled together a novel approach to urban ecosystem restoration that is based on minimally managed succession, broad stakeholder partnerships, a functional monitoring component, and a conservative approach to resource management. In an effort to create functional ecosystems in riparian buffers, a series of restoration practices are underway: the Grow Zone Program, ecological stormwater management (rain gardens, bioswales), a functionally-based invasive plant management approach, and an aggressive outreach component to deliver science to the people. Backed by a sustainability-driven regulatory environment, drought, and climate change, this lean program has made significant progress in changing the way land managers and citizens think about the value and aesthetics of the riparian buffers corridors that tie us all together.
Presented by Nick Wilman. August 9, 2018.
The Shawsheen River is a 26-mile long tributary to the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. After a long history of industrialization, the Shawsheen had only three dams on its mainstem. In 2009, a diverse group of partners embarked on an ambitious project to remove these three dams in an urban, flood-prone section of Andover, Massachusetts and thus restore connectivity to over 23 miles of river and stream in the Shawsheen system. The two lower dams of the three were removed in 2017 while debate continues about the future of the third. This presentation will describe the various challenges that the team experienced over nearly a decade pursing this project. These challenges include technical issues such as urban river hydraulics, sediment transport, and fish passage, as well as social and logistical challenges like landowner coordination, stakeholder involvement, funding, and regulatory compliance.
The sand dunes of the north coast of Puerto Rico were severely exploited resulting in the significant reduction of their volume and total area. This significantly reduced the protection these landforms provided to coastal communities making them less resilient to storms and other effects of climate change. This resulted in a very fragile system of landforms that were severely impacted by recent storms. We identified some coastal areas of high priority for ecological restoration as part of an assessment that we carried out for the US Department of the Interior - FEMA Natural and Cultural Resources Recovery Support Function and are proposing an ecological restoration approach that incorporates natural and nature-based infrastructure designs and high-technology monitoring for their ecological restoration. Most of these 23 areas are adjacent to highly populated areas and main access roads and are also important sea turtle nesting areas. The current work includes the installation of wooden exclusion fences, crossovers, sand accumulation structures such as biomimicry matrices, information signs and planting vegetation. This will be complemented with an education/outreach component. The progress of the restoration efforts are being carefully monitored using an unmanned aerial system and photogrammetry software. This project will result in an increase in the resilience of coastal communities to the effects of future storms and other effects of climate change in Puerto Rico.
Recorded: November 15th, 2018.
Presented by Jeff Parsons and José Carrasquero, Herrera Env. Cons., Inc. October 13, 2016.
Determination of engineering design elements such as excavation and fill removal limits are always difficult in nearshore restoration projects. Degree of site subsidence, and complex interactions of waves, tides, and tidal currents, and fluvial inputs, can obscure definitive estimates of future high water marks of different types of water (fresh water, salt water, etc.). In the case of salmon habitat restoration projects, however, often the target is not necessarily an elevation, but rather a target species of vegetation and the habitat it provides, which has site-specific elevation preferences. At Secret Harbor, presence of vegetation at differing elevations was used in conjunction with water level measurements as indicators to current and past marine water levels and to determine final design grading elevations. These measurements were also used to value engineer the design to minimize excavation costs. Because of the remote location of the site, and unusual topographic features defining it, there was not a relevant tide gauge to determine tidal elevations. The fluvial input to the site further complicated matters. Because of a degraded dike, a small area (approximately 100 square feet) of the marsh to be restored was subject to tidal inundation prior to construction and had remnant marsh vegetation (pickleweed). The limited presence of pickleweed was particularly valuable to validate new short-term water level measurements. It also was helpful during construction as it provided the contractor a convenient on-site check on the grading elevations. Post project monitoring indicates that the marsh elevation is set correctly – regularly inundated on high tides in the winter, but not during the summer. In addition to the vegetation clues, landward extent of the marsh was apparently constrained by a tall (3-5 feet) existing road prism. Here the road prism was cored and found to have large amounts of woody debris a small vertical distance (less than one foot) below the elevation of the road. Relic salt-tolerant plants landward of the berm indicated that salt was once present beyond the berm. However, their limited extent and presence preferentially next to the stream, taken in combination with other historical evidence, its curvelinear shape and the presence of similar features elsewhere in the central Salish Sea indicated that this feature was a former beach berm and likely predated development; thus providing a natural landward limit for the marsh.
Presented by Matt Whitbeck. October 25, 2018.
Located in Maryland, USA, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is part of the largest area of tidal marsh within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and is of regional ecological significance for its wetlands and for the wildlife populations it supports. However, over 5,000 acres of tidal marsh have converted to open water on the refuge since 1938. The mechanisms contributing to Blackwater’s tidal marsh loss are generally attributed to a combination of sea level rise, subsidence, and herbivory by nutria.
In many areas on the refuge the elevation of the marsh surface is low relative to local tides, leading to excessive inundation. More than 80% of elevation points recently surveyed on Blackwater NWR were found to be well below the elevations needed for optimum plant growth for the refuge’s tide range (Kirwan and Guntenspergen 2012). When marsh vegetation is at an elevation below that which is optimal for plant growth, the rising sea level will further inhibit root zone growth and lead to additional marsh loss. On Blackwater NWR, vertical marsh development is particularly dependent on organic accretion driven by below-ground biomass production (Cahoon et al. 2010).
In December 2016, 26,000 cubic yards of sediment was pumped in a thin-layer application over approximately 40 acres of tidal marsh on the refuge. The purpose of this project is to raise the elevation of the existing marsh platform. The sediment enhancement will offer a twofold ecological benefit to marsh resilience: 1) The longevity of the marsh receiving thin layer sediment application will be extended by virtue of the raised surface elevation in relation to the tidal regime; and 2) Root zone production, and consequently rates of vertical accretion, should increase. Root zone production is the main driver of vertical accretion rates in the Blackwater River system (Cahoon and Guntnerspergen 2010). Building the marsh platform to an elevation that maximizes plant productivity will take full advantage of the capacity of the marsh to continue to build elevation (Kirwan and Guntenspergen 2012).
Presented by Pamela Zevit. May 24, 2018.
It is increasingly recognized that habitat mitigation and restoration projects cannot just focus on protecting a single species but need to employ a "multi-species approach" to maximize conservation impact. Conflicts can arise between actions which are aimed at recovering one species but which may adversely impact another species. There is also the need to consider social license and social contracting with the community interest affected by restoration efforts. With stressors increasing on species and habitats, broadening the potential benefits of ecosystem-based restoration efforts to include aspects such as endangered species and biodiversity targets, while working to avoid unintentional conflicts and risks to non-target species is needed. In southwest British Columbia, the South Coast Conservation Program has sought to address this through a "Diversity by Design" approach, to fulfill an identified need for science-based guidance for stewards, land managers, and practitioners involved in habitat protection, restoration, mitigation and ecosystem management.
Pamela is a Registered Professional Biologist (RPBio) in BC, Canada with expertise in biodiversity conservation, landscape ecology and ecosystem restoration and planning. She currently divides her time between the South Coast Conservation Program (SCCP) and the Association of Professional Biology as their Director of Advocacy and Outreach working on science communication and professional development programming for natural resource professionals.
Presented by Scott Nicolai, Yakama Nation Fisheries. January 2, 2015.
Pacific Northwest streams have been wood-deficient and degraded for generations. In many locations wood
removal and channel straightening have lead to incision, disconnecting streams from their floodplains. In
eastern Washington State, upland forests are typically overstocked due to the legacy of forest fire suppression. By using excess coniferous trees as a stream restoration material, projects can occur at low cost using simple techniques. This approach has been taken in Taneum Creek, a high priority tributary to the Yakima River in Kittitas County. Beginning in 2008, over 1250 trees have been placed at 50 locations. The
first of two phases involved thinning adjacent uplands, and moving full-length trees to the stream with manual
tools and Washington Conservation Corps labor. In the second phase, collaboration with WDFW and USFWS
allowed a more intensive effort involving heavy equipment. Forest thinning of a four acre stand was done to provide 400 full-length trees at extremely low cost. Trees with rootwads were also obtained off-site and transported to the project area. All work was done utilizing recommendations for wood replenishment in
WDFW’s “Stream Habitat Restoration and Guidelines”. Loose logs were placed without anchorage. The
project was designed with pencil and paper by tribal habitat biologists. Work was complete in fall 2010. Six
months later, a historic flood (estimated 100-year recurrence interval) occurred in Taneum Creek. Floodplains were activated, over two miles of side channels were created and colonized by beavers, countless native riparian plants germinated and began to flourish. The project serves as a buffer against the adversity that climate change poses to cold-water fishes and other wildlife in Taneum watershed. The project also demonstrates that low-cost methods and designs can be utilized to restore upland forests and achieve watershed restoration simultaneously.