In the top five of each list is the health of wetlands and riparian areas. Healthy wetlands act as a buffer to slow, filter and absorb flood waters.
“Protect Our Natural Defenses: Natural features like wetlands reduce storm intensity and protect nearby properties from flooding. In fact, a single acre of wetland can store 1–1.5 million gallons of flood water. We must capitalize on these benefits and ensure that government helps protect these beneficial and cost-effective flood control features. The Obama Administration took several new steps to meet this goal. It has created new guidance and intends to pursue rulemaking to reinstate crucial Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and streams, and is also poised to release new water resources planning guidelines.”
With regard to actions that put people, property and wildlife at risk is the use of hard materials, like rock and concrete, in the place of natural materials for wetland and riparian stabilization and restoration.
“[Don’t] Build with Concrete instead of Mud and Grass: The WRDA 2007 national water policy proposed to “protect the environment” by “protecting and restoring the functions of natural systems and mitigating any unavoidable damage to natural systems,” and by “seeking to avoid the unwise use of floodplains.” The Corps is ignoring these requirements by continuing to promote environmentally destructive and costly structural projects even where less costly and environmentally protective nonstructural and restoration measures would provide better solutions. We need a major change of course to stop building structures that protect those directly behind them and exacerbate downstream flooding and instead use natural, open floodplains to allow rivers room to expand and cover their banks without impacting property.”
The Connecticut River Watershed Council and the Conservation Law Foundation have joined together to look at why Otter Creek in Rutland leapt up as Irene Struck, increasing in flow by nearly 20 times in the space of a little more than a day, while downstream in Middlebury the river rose much more gradually, and more safely. The film narrated by Gov. Howard Dean explores the importance of healthy floodplains and wetland complexes in reducing flood water damage.
With heavier than normal snow and rain events this year it’s not surprising that the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay would be the end recipents of extra runoff. Ironically, a couple of centuries ago the extra influx of natural nutrients would have been a boon for these productive estuaries. But today that extra runoff is laden with unfiltered urban, industrial, and agricultural pollutants that cover these aquatic nurseries with a deadly toxic blanket.
Habitat loss and fragmentation are the greatest threats to species biodiversity. In our nation’s more arid environments, the vast bulk of all biodiversity is found in the increasingly fragile riparian buffers of our watersheds. Healthy floodplains and other ecosystem functions rely directly on vital intact buffers. For these important reasons, conservation and restoration activities must increasingly focus on repair, renewal, and preservation of these precious riparian areas.
While some may see only the surface of the water, Trout Headwaters’ Team, looks holistically at landscapes and watersheds, striving always to leverage the true “silver bullet” of restoration – prudent resource management and maintenance. And while so-called “active” stream and wetland restoration can play a role in effecting ecological improvement within our watersheds, no degree of manipulation will overcome poorly conceived or poorly implemented long-term management.
Cost-effective strategies for stream, river and wetland restoration, management and maintenance have been our firm’s hallmark since 1996. To learn more >Contact Us
Yankee Engineer reports that for the past eight years, Gary Pelton, Biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Upper Connecticut River Basin Office, has been recruiting elementary schools to help plant trees along the Black River near North Springfield Lake (Perkinsville, Vermont).
In May 2010, 265 4th and 5th grade students planted more than 950 trees. Over the eight-year period, more than 8,000 trees have been planted in the riparian zone. The site chosen to repair had previously been a corn field with very few trees along the water’s edge. >Read More
A riparian zone is the area of land directly adjacent to a waterway (stream, river, or wetlands). Where these margin areas are healthy, they are characterized by hydrophilic plants (riparian vegetation). This vegetation plays an integral role in protecting water quality, ecological integrity and biodiversity.
Natural and restored buffer areas serve critical functions for nature and humans. Landowners benefit from production of biomass for forage, energy, timber, native prairie seeds, or berries and nuts from trees and shrubs. Land owners and users benefit from improved fishing, hunting, and wildlife habitat. All residents in a watershed and society in general, benefit from improved water quality, lower costs of cleaning sediment from major reservoirs and rivers, and increased diversity for wildlife.
Properly functioning riparian zones also can sequester, or hold, more carbon than annually cropped fields or cool-season pastures. Natural and restored riparian areas improve the quality of life for rural and urban citizens alike.