Tag Archives: riparian

Wyoming Finalizes Its First Stream Mitigation Procedure

WSMPThe United States Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District Wyoming Regulatory Office has approved the first Wyoming Stream Mitigation Procedure (WSMP) for the state.

The WSMP establishes a method for calculating compensatory mitigation debits and credits that will provide predictability and consistency.   Such a procedure is necessary for allowing the development of mitigation banks in the state.  The practice of using compensatory mitigation to minimize unavoidable losses of aquatic resources is an important component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Clean Water Act Section 404 Regulatory Program.

According to the WSMP document, Wyoming’s procedure was adapted from similar methodologies used in other Corps Districts that have been in effect for several years, and is based on the Montana Stream Mitigation Procedure  originally drafted a decade ago, but updated this year as well.

The idea of mitigation banking has been around for 30 years, and has steadily gained ground as a preferred method of protecting aquatic resources.  In 2008, the EPA and the Corps issued revised regulations governing compensatory mitigation.  The 2008 Compensatory Mitigation Rule (22 CFR Parts 325 and 332) established equivalent and effective standards for all three compensatory mitigation mechanisms: mitigation banks, in-lieu fee mitigation, and permittee-responsible mitigation.  Since mitigation banking is the most reliable form of compensatory mitigation, these regulations establish a hierarchy for the use of banks when appropriate credits are available.

Mitigation bank credits may be purchased by a permittee from a mitigation bank where aquatic resources (e.g., wetlands, streams, riparian areas) are restored, established, enhanced, and/or preserved in advance of impacts.

The WSMP represents an important step forward for Wyoming’s aquatic resources.

Read more: http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Portals/23/docs/regulatory/WY/WSMP_Feb2013.pdf

“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?

Father of Floodplain Management Said, “Build Away from Floodplains”

When rivers flood severely enough that there is loss of life, it’s not too long before emergency meetings are held to discuss new flood control measures.  Often these measures include armoring riverbanks.  Although a tragedy, the recent floods near Boulder, Colo. could have been worse.

Some of Boulder’s protection could be attributed to Gilbert White, the late University of Colorado professor known as the “father of flood plain management,” who believed that people should move structures out of flood-prone areas instead of relying on dams and levees.  White advocated  for adaptation to, or accommodation of, flood hazards rather than the “structural” solutions (dams, levees, and floodwalls, for example) that dominated policy in the early 20th century.

Dams, levees and floodwalls, developed by engineers, are designed to modify flooding hazards so that humans are protected and can continue to live in areas that are periodically subject to flooding (i.e. floodplains). White’s thought governing bodies (local, regional, or national) should restrict the use of floodplains. In his influential dissertation entitled “Human adjustment to floods,” published in 1945 by the University of Chicago Department of Geography, White argued that an over-reliance on structural works in the United States had actually increased damage by flooding, rather than decreasing them, and famously said, “Floods are an act of God, but flood losses are largely an act of man.”

Despite his many honors and accolades, including the National Medal of Science from the National Science Foundation (2000), during White’s lifetime, public confidence in structural works significantly increased building in floodplains.

You may also like: Know Your Risk: Floodwaters Can Transform Small Streams into Raging Rivers

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-flood-risks-20130920,0,7805513.story

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_F._White

Head for the Hills! Will Climate Change Put You Underwater?

Climate scientists predict that sea levels will rise by three feet — and could rise by as much as five feet — by the year 2100. What does this mean for some of the world’s coastal cities, or your favorite beach?  The map below allows you to explore the regions of the Earth that are most vulnerable to sea level rise.

The culprit is thought to be the unfettered burning of fossil fuels. See the areas on the map in red?  They could be under water by the end of this century if we don’t change our fossil fuel consumption habits.

Carbon absorption is critical to controlling carbon in the atmosphere. It turns out that created and restored wetlands are unexpectedly efficient for storing carbon.

Researchers and land managers need to consider restored and manmade wetlands as they look for places to store, or “sequester,” carbon long-term.

You may also like: Created and Restored Wetlands Are Unexpectedly Efficient for Storing Carbon

The Science Behind Colorado’s Catastrophic Floods

colorado-national guard

Photo credit: Colorado National Guard.

Just a few months ago, Boulder, Colorado was in the grip of yet another drought, reports TIME magazine online, and the state also experienced its worst wildfire on record earlier this year. But after days of heavy rainfall that the National Weather Service called “biblical,” drought and fire are the last things that Boulder and the rest of the northern Front Range of Colorado has to worry about. The more lasting effects will be caused by the catastrophic flood events that have ravaged portions of the state over the last few weeks.

With weather extremes becoming more common, it is more important than ever to be sure we encourage resilient landscapes. Healthy, functioning floodplains and wetlands can protect freshwater resources, and infrastructure from the extremes of drought and flood.

Andrew Freedman of Climate Central described the climate factors contributing to the Colorado floods: “An increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events is expected to take place even though annual precipitation amounts are projected to decrease in the Southwest…That may translate into more frequent, sharp swings between drought and flood, as has recently been the case.”

Many experts agree that climate-change-related severe weather events all around the country are here to stay.  Fires due to drought will, in turn, exacerbate flooding due to fire-exposed soils, and fire-damaged vegetation. Protection and restoration of fire-damaged areas, floodplains, and wetlands can help protect both life and property.

Read more: http://science.time.com/2013/09/17/the-science-behind-colorados-thousand-year-flood/#ixzz2fS83Pfy9

You may also like: Wildfire and Water: Post-Fire Assessments Provide Quick Answers, and Know Your Risk: Floodwaters Can Transform Small Streams into Raging Rivers

How to Keep Trout Streams Cool in a Warming Climate

BrownTrout.Patrick Fulkrod PhotoThis month National Geographic reported that anglers who flock to Montana in search of their own authentic A River Runs Through It experience are out of luck. “On September 4, the Blackfoot River, centerpiece of Norman Maclean’s beloved story…was closed to fishing by in an effort to protect fish from the stress of low stream flows.”

Such river closures have become more common in recent years, in Montana and beyond.  Lower flows and warmer waters may be exacerbated by changes in climate, but the underlying problem cannot be solved by river closures.  A reduction in angler days won’t add more water to the stream.

At Trout Headwaters, Inc. we think the only solution to the rapid shifts brought on by climate change with regard to our rivers and streams is protection and restoration of these resources.  Cooler water will be achieved through conservative water use for agriculture, and healthier, well-vegetated floodplains to add shade.  Healthy streamside vegetation and protected flow levels act as a hedge against temperature extremes, drought, fire, floods, and pollutants from headwaters to deltas.

The time is now to restore these resources to their fullest potential for water quantity and quality and associated aquatic life.  To discuss your water conservation, or stream restoration project, contact THI today.

Read more: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/09/130918-angling-fishing-climate-change-global-warming-science/

 

How a City Can Be More Like a Forest

from Greenbiz.com

green infrastructureOne defining characteristic of a city is that it is full of hard surfaces. Streets, sidewalks, buildings and bridges shed water when it rains. All that water has to go somewhere, and it usually gets there fast. So for a city to function more like a forest or a field, step one is to slow down the water.

At THI our main business is slowing down the water with a process we call Experience EcoBlu.  Healthy floodplains with lush, streamside vegetation provides ecological services like water filtration, absorption, and storage.  When floodplains are destroyed, the inevitable result is lower water quality, more flooding, and more damage to life, limb and property.  We answer many calls from landowners concerned about erosion and flooding.

The issue is becoming more urgent. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading New York–based policy, science and advocacy organization, over the past 50 years the number of days with heavy precipitation events has increased more than 50 percent. If this trend continues, as climate models suggest it will, flash floods will pose an ever greater risk both to people and to the infrastructure built over decades — even centuries, in some places — to handle stormwater. On the flip side, droughts elsewhere will put drinking water supplies under greater stress and increase conflicts among agricultural, industrial and residential water users.

The role of water is so important to green infrastructure that some experts speak of blue-green or turquoise infrastructure. The reason is clear: in natural conditions, rocks, soil, plants and trees keep water where it falls, or slow water down on its way into wetlands, streams and rivers. As a result, only 10 percent of rain becomes runoff, half gets absorbed and the rest goes back into the air as water vapor. The páramo in Ecuador is a great example; a giant sponge that soaks up water where it falls. When the ground cannot absorb rain — whether because cattle have pounded it solid or because people have built office towers, apartment complexes, roads and parking lots on it — nearly all the rain washes away, carrying pollution with it, and with increasing frequency overrunning stormwater systems.

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/05/13/how-city-can-be-more-forest

 

Wildfire and Water: Post-Fire Assessments Provide Quick Answers

Six Months of Fires in North America - NOAA

Satellite fire data from NOAA/NESDIS. Six months of fires burning in North America.

The fire is out, but the damage is still ongoing.  When wildfires burn an area, the exposed land that has lost most of its vegetation is very susceptible to soil loss.

In a short amount of time rain can cause severe erosion affecting structures, hillsides, roads, trails, and especially the health of streams, rivers, and wetlands.  Channels filled with sediment can quickly become a new flood hazard; aquatic life can be severely impaired; and streambanks can become vulnerable to accelerated erosion and sloughing.

Although wildfires occur naturally, several human-caused factors make wildfires increasingly catastrophic.  Stream dewatering is a massive problem in the West.  Streams that used to persist during dry spells, now dwindle to a trickle or completely dry up. And once-saturated riparian areas burn instead of protecting streams and providing natural firebreaks.  Human-manipulated fire regimes cause some areas to be overloaded with understory fuels, or attempts at controlled burns get out of control.  We also can’t ignore that weather patterns are changing, and droughts may occur more frequently and last longer. With these environmental events likely becoming more severe in the coming decades, the impact of wildfires is expected to steadily increase.

Trout Headwaters’ post-fire assessments can provide a clear view of what type of repair is needed to help your property quickly recover from wildfire.  Our full-service company can then apply the appropriate natural treatments that will help nature help herself in the recovery process.   Healthy riparian areas and floodplains can provide a wonderful, natural buffer against the effects of wildfire on your property and from the future effects of unmitigated damage on surrounding properties.

At THI we provide:

  • Prompt, post-fire assessments, including impacts and potential hazards;
  • Repair to stop immediate soil loss, including natural soil-stabilizing mats, mulches, quick seeding techniques, and more;
  • Restoration, including long-term soil stabilization, reseeding, transplanting;
  • Monitoring to insure your property is recovering to its fullest potential.

If your property has been affected by wildfire, please contact THI today to discuss our low-cost, rapid, post-wildfire assessment services.

You may also like: Wildfire: A Friend or Foe to Streams and Rivers?  and Paradise Valley Heats Up: How Healthy Streams Can Help Mitigate the Impacts of Wildfire

What Your Stream Assessment Report Should Tell You

Assessment and MonitoringIt’s impossible to know where you are going without understanding where you stand right now. Unfortunately, in the relatively new industry of stream, river and wetland restoration, there are individuals and companies making recommendations, and even performing work, without properly evaluating the current condition of the resource.

Baseline assessment can best be described as the basis by which to judge the success of any action taken to conserve, protect, enhance or restore water resources.  Monitoring is performed on a regular basis following implemented management changes and/or treatments to continue to measure the health of the resource.

THI performs baseline assessments to meet a variety of objectives, and to guide all restoration planning, design and installation. New technologies have made the assessment process relatively quick and low-cost – certainly the best investment toward a successful enhancement or restoration project.

 Assessments are used to:

  • Provide baseline data for permitting or for comparison over time;
  • Determine the ecological health of a stream, river or wetland system;
  • Reveal ecological potential;
  • Answer project feasibility questions;
  • Uncover hidden problems before you build (or before you buy);
  • Add value to due diligence;
  • Prevent costly surprises.

To learn more or receive our free Assessment and Monitoring Fact Sheet contact Trout Headwaters today.

Study: Focus on Smaller Streams Can Save Big River Fish

Large-river fish like paddlefish and blue catfish are in danger.  A University of Wisconsin-Madison study in journal Frontiers in Ecology and Environment says 60 out of 68 species, or 88 percent, of fish species found exclusively in large-river ecosystems like the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers, are a conservation concern.

Despite these grim statistics, lead author Brenda Pracheil, a postdoctoral researcher in the UW’s Center for Limnology, points to some good news. Although these fish are found in some of our nation’s largest river systems, their survival is tied closely to the health of smaller tributaries.  These tributaries provide important refuges for large-river fishes, and around the world, these smaller systems are sometimes easier to preserve and protect.

“Tributaries may be one of our last chances to preserve large-river fish habitat,” Pracheil says in “Thinking ‘big’ may not be best approach to saving large-river fish”. “Even though the dam building era is all but over in this country, it’s just starting on rivers like the Mekong and Amazon —places that are hotspots for freshwater fish diversity. While tributaries cannot offer a one-to-one replacement of main river habitats, our work suggests that [they] provide important refuges for large-river fishes and that both main rivers and their tributaries should be considered in conservation plans.”

Read more:  http://www.news.wisc.edu/21813