Tag Archives: stewardship

Assessment and Monitoring – The Keys to Successful Restoration

THI on baseline assessmentA 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 or habitats. Monitoring, when properly executed, continues to evaluate the health of the resource after any action is taken in order to track results in a meaningful way.  This is the critical feedback loop to insure successful restoration and prudent adaptive resource management.

Trout Headwaters Inc 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 quick and low cost – certainly the best investment toward a successful enhancement or restoration project.

Assessments can do the following:

  • Reveal ecological potential and challenges;
  • Answer project feasibility questions;
  • Uncover hidden problems before you renew, repair or restore;
  • Provide baseline data for permitting and for comparison over time;
  • Add value to property acquisition due diligence;
  • Prevent costly surprises.

 >Request our free Assessment FAQ

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A Strategy for Saving Planet Earth – Doug La Follette

It was my pleasure recently to spend the afternoon with Doug La Follette, Secretary of State in Wisconsin for a tour of some of his work and achievement.  He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Columbia, has worked as Public Affairs Director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, and has been board member of Friends of the Earth and other nonprofits.  He was a member of the 1970 National Earth Day organization and continues to speak about the importance of our environment.

As La Follette shared some of his photos and memories with me in his Madison, WI office recently, it became clear that his interests are centered on the outdoors.  Nature is the strong current that flows through his seemingly divergent world-wide adventures.  It follows that La Follette’s “The Survival Handbook – A Strategy for Saving Planet Earth” would remain a pertinent outline for those wishing to help their state (or the Earth) improve its natural, healthy condition.   And despite the 25 years since first published, the environmental issues and approaches in the book remain some of the most significant of our day.

While Doug La Follette would be the first to tell you that some of the specifics of his book may be dated, much remains sadly the same for planet Earth.  This carefully crafted discourse on the true meaning of ecology,  its connection to the economy and humanity’s dependence on a healthy environment deserves a place on every community leader’s bookshelf.  Buy via Amazon.com

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Coastal Wetlands Continue to Be Gobbled Up by Development

Copyright Trout Headwaters Inc 2013 WetlandWetlands in the U.S. are still taking a hit, and human activity, urban, suburban, and rural development, is the cause.

A new study released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says between 2004 and 2009, wetland area in the coastal watersheds of the U.S. declined by an estimated 360,720 acres. The worst part: The rate of loss is on the increase. More than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study.

A strategy of achieving “no net loss” by offsetting wetland acreage losses with wetland creation or reestablishment does not appear to so far to have been effective for coastal watersheds.  Both freshwater and saltwater coastal wetlands are absolutely critical to the health of our bays and estuaries.  As we saw with Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, continuing losses of wetlands in coastal watersheds have direct costs for people and longer-term resource implications for fish, wildlife and other natural resources.

Despite this terrible truth, the only major news organization to cover this story was NPR.

Read the press release: http://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ID=7B8CB057-90CD-5C03-6EA2F94520ED3BF1

Read the full study: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Documents/Status-and-Trends-of-Wetlands-In-the-Coastal-Watersheds-of-the-Conterminous-US-2004-to-2009.pdf

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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

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Print-Ready InfoGraphic: 10 Things You Should Know About Water

water10things

Graphic courtesy of Circle of Blue.

How much drinkable water is there in the world? How much water does an American, a European, an African use every day? How many people lack even basic access to clean water? Circle of Blue’s printable infographic answers these questions and serves as a great introduction or reminder to the tenuous state of our freshwater resources.

Read more:  http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2009/world/infographic-ten-things-you-should-know-about-water/

View or print “10 Things You Should Know About Water.”

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Anacostia River Shapes Up as a Fitness Destination

Maryland's Governor O’Malley announces plan to renew and revitalize the Anacostia River Waterfront.  Photo courtesy of Maryland.gov

Maryland’s Governor O’Malley announces plan to renew and revitalize the Anacostia Riverfront.
Photo courtesy of Maryland.gov.

At THI we believe that just because a river runs through an urban area, it shouldn’t be valued any less than its rural cousins. Healthy urban streams can be a huge asset to a community and all life is dependent upon that resource.

The Anacostia River is the “other” river running through our nation’s capital. Although not as well-known as the Potomac, the Washington Post reports  that the Anacostia is becoming a major fitness destination. The Post describes the enthusiasm of Lee Cain, director of recreation for the Anacostia Watershed Society, like someone referring to a rock star on the verge of releasing a hit album.

“It’s about to blow up,” says Cain, describing the popularity of the Anacostia riverfront.  The 24-year-old nonprofit organization is devoted to restoring the Anacostia with a “confluence of projects is set to make the banks and waters of the Anacostia some of the most attractive real estate in town for folks looking to exercise.”

None of it would be possible without the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, a path that’s beckoning cyclists, joggers and strollers to wind their way along both sides of the river. The D.C. Department of Transportation has opened 12 miles of the 20-mile project, and work is about to begin on the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment, a four-mile stretch that will connect Benning Road to Maryland’s Bladensburg Trail. That’s likely to be the most scenic part of the route and the most significant: It will link the D.C. trail to more than 40 miles of trails in Maryland.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/anacostia-river-shapes-up-as-a-fitness-destination/2013/08/20/59588fae-042c-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html

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The “Johnny Willowseed” Approach to Stream Restoration Is Both Practical and Low Cost

Johnny Willowseed approach to restorationJust as Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) made practical and lasting contributions to apple production in the U.S., our firm strives to make practical and lasting contributions to stream and river restoration, often through plantings of willow and other native riparian species.

In 1995, Trout Headwaters, Inc (THI) was founded to provide service to private, non-profit, and government clients.  At a time when fewer than a handful of entities across the U.S. were providing stream, river or wetland restoration services, the company quickly became a recognized leader in “soft” biostabilization and riparian restoration strategies.

For many years the company has teamed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to develop and refine these environmentally superior techniques for stream stabilization and restoration.  A state regulator, reviewing one of THI’s early landmark projects remarked that we had used a “Johnny Willowseed” approach.  Working WITH nature has indeed been a precept of the firm since its founding and one that we’re immensely proud to continue through today.

Proven, Practical Innovation  

In 2001, THI began developing and testing proprietary technologies for river, stream and wetland inventory, assessment, design, and monitoring.  Ultimately, several of these processes were commercialized by sister company THI RiverWorks.  U.S. Patents for restoration methods, processes, and computer software were received beginning in 2006.

So while Trout Headwaters continues to offer the same services it did when first founded, the company has constantly changed and improved its process and its products.  This commitment to improving quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness has resulted in now more than 450 successful projects all across the U.S.  The company’s work has been featured in diverse publications including Land & Water, Erosion Control, Landscape Architect, Outdoor Life, and many others.

Customer Focus

Expect however our hallmark to remain always unchanged: A dedication to serving the nation’s most discriminating clients by delivering cost-effective and ecologically beneficial restoration products and services.

At THI our guiding principle is always to stay customer-focused. Each one of our clients has helped us achieve what we believe to be the lead position in the aquatic restoration industry.   But why take our word for it, listen to a sample of what our clients are saying:

“We have received award-winning attention for our sustainable, green design and development efforts, much of which is directly attributable to THI.” – Cielo Falls (NC)

“You and your team were nothing short of spectacular! Great communication on all projects and their status, along with an attitude that reflects your sincere care and passion for your profession consistently exceeded my expectations.” - 3 Peaks Ranch (MT)

“As you know I’ve worked with other firms on river restoration projects, prior to engaging THI.  As such, I have come to appreciate the quality of your firm’s work in an industry where many firms offer dramatic results but fail to deliver.”- River Ranch Restoration LLC (CO)

“Simply put, Trout Headwaters, Inc. is the transition captain, adding value by enhancing natural attributes of these ecologically important ranches.”- Live Water Properties (WY)

To learn more or contact us – Visit www.troutheadwaters.com

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Low Impact Development Symposium is Aug. 18-21 in St. Paul

The 2013 International Low Impact Development (LID) Symposium will bring together more than 1,000 professionals to share their research, implementation, policy, financing, and education strategies to build and restore cities while protecting our environment.

From the Great Lakes to the Mississippi Watershed, every state in the Midwestern United States is addressing urban water quality issues, from combined sewer overflows to stormwater runoff.  This event is being held Aug. 18-21, 2013 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, Saint Paul Minnesota.

Read more: http://www.cce.umn.edu/2013-International-Low-Impact-Development-Symposium/index.html

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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.

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Rare: Effectively Engaging Communities in Environmental Stewardship

The whale mascot in Indonesia inspires local community members to care about and protect marine resources. Photo credit: Djuna Ivereigh

Environmental pride in local resources is a conservation approach that works. Rare’s mission is to conserve imperiled species and ecosystems around the world. Rare inspires people to care about and protect nature. Rare’s signature Pride campaigns are now used by local conservationists and organizations across the globe. It’s Rare’s method for motivating behavior change and community support for conservation that has been tested and refined in more than 50 countries to date. By creating a stronger emotional and cultural connection between people and their environment, these campaigns have been used to dramatically reduce human-related threats to important ecosystems from the Caribbean to Latin America and from Africa to Asia.

Read more:  http://rareconservation.org/

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