Tag Archives: renewal

River, Wetland and Habitat Restoration – First Do No Harm

THI.DoNoHarmAD.2013(F)It is one of the precepts all students are taught in medical school. It reminds a physician that he or she must always consider the possible harm any intervention might cause. It also applies quite accurately to the process of restoring rivers, wetlands and uplands. The very act of “restoring” any resource or habitat implies that you do no harm.

Our natural environment plays host to an immense variety of species, many of them microscopic. Whether reducing excessive erosion or enhancing habitat for fish, we not only tread lightly on the delicate ecosystems that exist, we strive to protect and enhance it.  >Learn More about EcoBlu!

My Top Ten Water Wishes 2015

PaintingWater news and alerts continued to receive notice throughout 2014. Severe drought as well as dramatic flooding again topped U.S. headlines. My personal Top Water Wishes for the New Year include a quick look back at some of the important water stories that streamed through our offices this past year.

  1. Wishing for increased understanding of the vital, intrinsic relationships between our economy and ecology. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/secretary-jewell-discusses-path-for-both-economy-and-ecology/
  1. Wishing the real price tag for nature’s defenses was better understood. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/what-is-the-price-tag-for-natures-defenses/
  1. Wishing that governments and policy-makers recognize some of the many values and opportunities of public-private partnerships and refocus efforts to restore our water resources. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/service-and-conservation-corps-will-soon-add-waders-in-the-water/
  1. Wishing environmental data be better leveraged for business, government and non-profits. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/benefits-of-big-data-for-environmental-management/
  1. Wishing that we respect how precious our water resources are to all life and all development.>More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/10-cities-that-could-run-out-of-water/
  1. Wishing for more consistent implementation of Clean Water standards across the U.S. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/wyoming-finalizes-its-first-stream-mitigation-procedure/
  1. Wishing that invasive and damaging strategies for species ‘restoration’ will be abolished. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/rotenone-1952-called-and-wants-its-fisheries-management-strategy-back/
  1. Wishing that we can stem the steady tide of wetland losses. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/wetland-losses-go-on-and-on/
  1. Wishing that we will undam the nation’s longest undammed river. >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/the-yellowstone-river-still-the-longest-undammed-river-in-the-lower-48/
  1. Wishing that we will all spend more time near water! >More http://troutheadwaters.com/clubecoblu/science-shows-being-near-water-makes-you-happier-healthier-more-connected/

Public-Private Partnership to Certify Youth Corps

Restored Creek/Wetland ComplexThe Bay Journal writes: “Beyond political will or ecological know-how, restoring the Chesapeake Bay and other impaired waters across the country requires a good deal of manpower.”  It will take ‘waders in the water,’ to physically return rivers, streams and wetlands to a more natural state.”

“It’s work that Trout Headwaters, Inc., a private water restoration company, has been doing nationwide for nearly 20 years — and work that the company, through a new partnership with The Corps Network, now plans to equip youth corps nationwide to do,” writes the Journal.  >Read More via http://www.bayjournal.com/article/public_private_partnership_to_certify_youth_corps_for_restoration_work

Study Says Mammals Respond to “Field of Dreams” Strategy for Restored Wetlands

Photo courtesy of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Restoration of wetland ecosystems has typically focused on hydrology, soil, and vegetation, but mammals are drawn to restored wetlands at even higher levels than expected. A study led by Princeton researcher David J. Kurz, and published recently in The American Midland Naturalist, showed that a strategy of “if you build it they will come” is beneficial to not only wetland species, but also to mammals dependent upon wetlands for food, water and shelter.

“Restored wetlands – if managed correctly – can harbor mammalian communities as rich as those found in [natural, existing] wetland habitats. Our results support the “Field of Dreams” hypothesis which suggests, among other things, that if the necessary physical conditions are present then desired [wildlife] will subsequently colonize the patch. For small to midsized mammals in our study area, this appears to be the case,” said the study.

Read more: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1674/0003-0031-170.2.260

“Emergency Response” for Streams and Rivers Becoming More Common

A scientifically-based assessment can aid quick, sound decision-making in an emergency.

A scientifically-based assessment can aid quick, sound decision-making in an emergency.

With unpredictable weather patterns becoming the new normal, it may be time to take a fresh look your flood risk.  At Trout Headwaters we are definitely seeing a distinct increase in the number of emergency calls we receive.  When a structure or critical resource is under threat of flooding time is of the essence.

Streams, rivers and wetlands do flood, most often during spring runoff or summer rain storms. An emerging pattern in the West of drought, followed by fire, followed by rain, can wreak havoc on the stability of streambanks. High spring runoff or heavy rain events can very quickly turn a peaceful stream into a raging torrent eating away at unstable banks.

Lush streamside vegetation and a healthy stream hydrology mean resilient streambanks, but if you do find yourself in an emergency situation, our firm’s expert team of engineers, hydrologists and biologists can  deploy quickly to provide an assessment of the damage and potential threat to your property.  Our patented RiverWorks Rapid Assessment System allows us to complete a thorough stream or river assessment quickly, even turning around a report and suggested remedies within 24 – 48 hours.

THI’s “green” approaches to streambank stabilization not only stave off further damage, but also strengthen over time as banks recover the type of deep-rooted, woody vegetation that means stability long term, along with added habitat values for fish and wildlife.

For more information or to discuss your concerns, contact THI today.

You may also like: For Builders, Architects, and Homeowners – Building Near a River or Stream?

Climate models predict large reductions in native trout across Rockies; habitat restoration can help

Photo credit: Fisheries Vol 37 No 12 December 2012 via www.fisheries.orgA new research study featured in the latest issue of the American Fisheries Society’s Fisheries Magazine explores how a warming climate is affecting trout streams throughout the Rocky Mountains, and urges quick action if native trout populations are to persist in diminishing cold-water habitats.

One important point of the article is that even with better information, future uncertainties will remain large due to unknowns regarding Earth’s ultimate warming trajectory and how effects translate across scales. Maintaining or increasing the size of habitats could provide a buffer against these uncertainties.

One of the report’s authors Clint Muhlfeld, an aquatic ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Glacier National Park field office said certain actions that may offset future climate effects include maintaining or restoring in-stream flows, increasing riparian vegetation to shade streams, and maximizing summer habitat volume.

Read more in The Missoulian: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/report-warming-climate-will-squeeze-trout-in-flathead-river-elsewhere/article_9cd62410-43fe-11e2-8dd6-0019bb2963f4.html

Read the full study: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2012_isaak_d001.pdf

Water Wishes for a New Year – Looking to 2013

Water alerts continued to receive notice throughout 2012. Both drought and flooding topped the nation’s headlines. My Top Water Wishes for the New Year include a quick look back at some of the important water stories that streamed our network this past year.

Top Ten Water Wishes for 2013:

#10: Wishing that our nation increasingly recognize the importance of water to our economy. >more

#9: Wishing that the U.S. Clean Water Act be kept strong for future generations. >more

#8: Wishing that impacts to water quality become increasingly expensive for polluters, motivating use of more sustainable practices by government and private industry. >more

#7: Wishing that restoration efforts consider long-term and holistic management strategies. >more

#6: Wishing that solid restoration science become the industry standard and public monies no longer are spent on sure-to-fail projects. >more

#5: Wishing that the U.S. invest in green infrastructure in order to improve and protect drinking water quality. >more

#4: Wishing that the use of expensive, damaging riprap be eliminated and replaced by strategies that actually help restore our waterways. >more

#3: Wishing that the intentional dumping of poison into U.S. waterways (especially into our most pristine headwaters) comes to a long-overdue end. >more

#2: Wishing that policy makers, land owners and resource managers focus their investments on our increasingly precious ground and surface water resources. >more


#1: Wishing that water users increase their conservation efforts so that environmental flows may be returned to our rivers. >more

A Creek Runs Through Us

Reprinted with permission from author Chandler Van Voorhis of GreenTrees, LLC


Water has played a critical role in the formation of the United States.  As President Theodore Roosevelt stated 100 years ago, in the first ever White House Conference on Conservation, “It was in Philadelphia that the representatives of all the States met for what was in its original conception merely a waterways conference; but when they had closed their deliberations the outcome was the Constitution which made the States into a Nation. The Constitution of the United States thus grew in large part out the necessity for united actions in the wise use of one of our natural resources.”

The notion of stewardship is a concept reaching deep into the annals of our history. Thomas Jefferson penned a famous letter to Madison two hundred years ago where he stated “I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self evident, ‘that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living,’ that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it.” 

The concept of “usufruct” dates to Roman law. It simply means “a legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another.” Jefferson believed in the sovereignty of the present generation. But sovereignty was tied to a responsibility that the present generation has to the future generations to whom the earth belongs.

To truly accept an obligation to the future requires a person to pursue a land ethic borne not out of the role of conqueror, but rather of trustee. Healing and restoration are being fostered by the emergence of ecosystem markets. The notion is simple. Whether it is paying a landowner to plant trees to sequester carbon or paying the landowner to restore riparian edges along Goose Creek, we learn to put a price on our clean air and our clean water.  

Restoration is only starting to be integrated into the economic value system. With a price, it has value. As the liabilities of a dwindling supply of land and natural resources base increase, value and price are being assigned more and more to what has been considered to this point a “free” externality.

Theodore Roosevelt rightfully concluded, that our “resources are the final basis of national power and perpetuity” and that “it is safe to say that the prosperity of our people depends directly on the energy and intelligence with which our natural resources are used.” Roosevelt went on to say that George “Washington clearly saw that the perpetuity of the States could only be secured by union, and that the only feasible basis of union was an economic one; in other words, that it must be based on the development and use of their natural resources.”

We stand at a confluence in American history where we can create a more purposeful and natural capitalism.  Conservation and restoration are best achieved when landowners, government and the markets create a partnership that enables better land management.  It is through this partnership that we build equity in our land and in our neighbor. 

The benefit is a result that ripples over time.  A restored acre of ground will have a multiplier effect, a positive opportunity cost, in its impact downstream in sustaining water, soil, and air for space beyond the acres themselves. It is the season and the time for renewal.

Chandler Van Voorhis is Managing Partner of GreenTrees, LLC, a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the 2002 Recipient of the ChevronTexaco Conservation Award. He can be reached at chandler@green-trees.com.

Trout Headwaters RecentWork – IBooks Volume Just in Time for the Holidays

Stream, River and Wetland Restoration Projects, Quotes and More. 2012 edition of RecentWork, by Trout Headwaters Inc, shows state-of-the-science application of environmental restoration projects across the United States. >Download the ebook for IPad Ibooks

Potomac River Tops the Most Endangered River List – All Rivers Need Protection

The non-profit advocacy group American Rivers is naming the Potomac the nation’s most endangered river, saying it is threatened by nutrient and sediment pollution that lowers the quality of drinking water and kills marine life.

The group’s annual report titled, “America’s Most Endangered Rivers,” notes what local friends of the Potomac have said for years: that urban development is funneling tons of polluted rainwater to the river; that chemical fertilizer and manure from farms make matters worse; and that wastewater overflowing from sewers, along with pharmaceuticals flushed down toilets, contribute to dead zones in which marine life dies and might cause fish to switch sexes. Some male fish in the river mysteriously have eggs.

The Potomac River, a large Chesapeake Bay tributary, supplanted another bay tributary (the Susquehanna River) as the Nation’s most endangered river.  How does a river that was ranked first last year, now fall off the list?  River restoration cannot be measured in a year, so it’s not that the Susquehanna is now fully restored. Heightening public awareness about the plight of all of our nation’s rivers is crucial, and the annual list is an effective marketing tool.

This year the Clean Water Act turns 40, and even in the face of severe threats to our water resources, Congress continues its attempts to roll back clean water regulations. Read more and find links about the rankings and the report:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/potomac-river-threatened-by-pollution-congress-new-report-says/2012/05/14/gIQAxl89PU_story.html

To learn more about American Rivers: http://www.amrivers.org/

Author Doug Pickford of Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI), an environmental planner with 20 years of experience in the Chesapeake Bay area, follows events in the bay watershed as the tide turns from voluntary to mandatory for bay cleanup regulations and protections.   Doug’s blog series for THI will document what is likely the largest and most significant watershed clean up effort in the history of the U.S., and offer his insights into some practical ways to assist the health of this magnificent natural resource