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Ecological Systems Maintaining and Enhancing Natural Features and Minimizing Adverse Impacts of Infrastructure Projects Module 6 Restoring Ecological Function.

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Presentation on theme: "Ecological Systems Maintaining and Enhancing Natural Features and Minimizing Adverse Impacts of Infrastructure Projects Module 6 Restoring Ecological Function."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ecological Systems Maintaining and Enhancing Natural Features and Minimizing Adverse Impacts of Infrastructure Projects Module 6 Restoring Ecological Function

2 Emily Mitchell Ayers, Ph.D. The Low Impact Development Center, Inc.

3 Learning Outcomes Understand the value of ecological restoration Learn to focus on restoring ecological function rather than appearance Become familiar with techniques employed in a variety of restoration contexts 6-3

4 1. Know where you are 2. Avoid sensitive areas 3. Minimize infrastructure impacts 4. Mitigate unavoidable losses 5. Improve ecological function where possible Ecologically-Sensitive Design Process 6-4

5 Mitigation Banking When damage to a wetland, stream, or aquatic resource is unavoidable, impacts may be offset by restoring or preserving an equivalent resource off-site Mitigation Banks are areas set aside to create large-scale, intact ecosystems 6-5 EPA

6 Wetlands in mitigation banks are restored prior to the destruction of existing wetlands on-site, which allows verification of equivalent function Larger intact ecosystems are more stable than smaller, fragmented systems, and can support larger wildlife Advantages of Mitigation Banking 6-6

7 Mitigation banking is well-established only for wetlands; other ecosystems, especially upland ecosystems are not included Some small wetlands, such as vernal pools, are critically important for amphibian breeding and migratory birds Caveats 6-7

8 1. Know where you are 2. Avoid sensitive areas 3. Minimize infrastructure impacts 4. Mitigate unavoidable losses 5. Improve ecological function where possible Ecologically-Sensitive Design Process 6-8

9 Consult with experts Remove barriers to ecological function Establish key species to jump-start self- organization Provide connectivity to existing habitat Be patient! Basic Principles of Ecological Restoration 6-9

10 Ecological restoration is a discipline in its own right A growing number of specialists around the country have expertise and experience with restoration projects Including experts on your team can help to ensure success and avoid unintended consequences Consult with Experts 6-10

11 Energetic barriers Altered hydrology Material barriers Excessive nutrient inputs Altered sediment deposition (too much or too little) Contamination Species-specific barriers Noise, light pollution, habitat requirements, connectivity Remove Barriers to Ecological Function 6-11

12 Usually, this involves establishing an appropriate plant community The plant community provides a backbone for the ecosystem, allowing colonization by animals Install Key Species 6-12

13 This promotes colonization by species adapted to site conditions as they disperse from adjacent habitats Provide Connectivity to Existing Habitat 6-13

14 It is impossible to physically reconstruct a functioning ecosystem, as you would build a car Creating appropriate conditions, and providing as much biodiversity as possible will allow the ecosystem to self-organize Using Succession and Self-Organization 6-14

15 Some ecological processes take place over very long time periods (e.g. topsoil development, peat bog formation) It may or may not be possible to hurry these processes along to meet human timetables Once energy and material flows are restored, ecological processes will take over, and will eventually establish a functioning, complex, ecosystem Patience 6-15

16 If you build it, they will come (provided they can get there) 6-16

17 Stream geomorphology (the size and shape of the stream bed and banks) is a direct response to the size of storm flows Restoring Hydrology in Streams 6-17

18 Morphology of a Stable Stream 6-18 NEH 653

19 Morphological Changes Due to Urbanization 6-19 Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Disconnection from floodplain

20 Incised Stream 6-20 Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

21 If in-stream structure and meanders are rebuilt without addressing underlying hydrologic issues, there is a strong likelihood that restoration efforts will fail Restored stream morphology must match the current energy signature Match Morphology to Hydrology 6-21

22 BEST OPTION: restore watershed hydrology, then rebuild in-stream physical features Unfortunately, watershed hydrology is the cumulative result of actions on multiple sites, so this is not generally possible in the context of a single infrastructure project Options to Restore Hydrology 6-22

23 ALTERNATE STRATEGY: 1. If possible, use floodplain to detain and infiltrate stormwater runoff 2. Install energy dissipating structures to reduce erosive power of storm flows Restoring Stream Hydrology 6-23

24 Energy Dissipating Structures Rock weirs Prevent scouring Dissipate energy Direct flows away from banks 6-24 Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

25 Where flow velocities permit, banks can be stabilized with vegetation Biodegradable reinforcements can be used while vegetation becomes established In highly erosive conditions, stone may be necessary Bank Stabilization 6-25

26 Restoring In-stream Habitat Tree trunks with root wads can be used to slow and direct flows and provide habitat Trunks must be firmly anchored in stabilized banks 6-26 BLM

27 OPTIONS: Reduce fertilizer application in watershed Capture and treat runoff close to the source Capture and treat runoff at the point where it is discharged to the water body (end-of- pipe) Reducing Nutrient Inputs 27

28 Wastewater Treatment: Tertiary treatment to remove nitrogen and phosphorus Agriculture: Use vegetated buffers between fields and surface waters Stormwater: Remove nutrients using Low Impact Development BMPs such as bioretention Removing Nutrients Close to the Source 28

29 End-of-pipe Options Regenerative stormwater conveyance (RSC) Constructed wetlands 6-29 DDOE EPA

30 Install erosion control structures, either in-stream or within watershed Reducing Sedimentation 6-30 FWS Live fascines and coir blanket

31 Restoring Wetland Hydrology Wetland hydrology is all about flooding depth and frequency These two parameters must be correct for a wetland restoration project to be successful 6-31 FWS

32 The Importance of Wetland Hydrology Wetland plants are primarily responsible for maintaining wetland structure and function These plants have very specific hydrologic requirements 6-32 NRCS

33 Remove dams and levees where possible Install energy dissipating structures to reduce erosion and promote settling Install sediment diversion structures Trucking in sediment is a short-term fix, but may fail in the long run if erosive forces and subsidence are not balanced by ongoing deposition Restoring Sedimentation 6-33

34 Sediment Diversion 6-34 USACE

35 Lake and pond deterioration is usually a result of excess nutrient loading In addition to methods previously discussed, nutrients can be removed using Algal turf scrubbers, and Floating islands. Lake and Pond Restoration 6-35

36 Algal Turf Scrubber™ (ATS) Water is pumped down a chute seeded with filamentous algae Algae grows, taking up excess nutrients Algae is harvested periodically, preventing eutrophication related to die-off 6-36 University of Maryland – NEED PERMISSION

37 Floating Islands Floating treatment wetlands Wetland plants are suspended on floating mats Remove excess nutrients from the water column 6-37 Floating Islands International NEED PERMISSION

38 3 points: Enhance one ecosystem function 6 points: Enhance two ecosystem functions 9 points: Enhance three ecosystem functions 15 points: Enhance four ecosystem functions 19 points: Restore full ecosystem function NW3.4 Maintain Wetland and Surface Water Functions 6-38

39 NW3.4 Maintain Wetland and Surface Water Functions (cont’d) Enhance hydrologic connections Reconnect rivers to their floodplains Restore wetland hydrology Enhance water quality Disconnect surface water discharges Use BMPs to infiltrate runoff Enhance habitat Restore riffles, pools, shoreline Plant appropriate species Enhance sediment transport Remove dams and other impediments 6-39

40 Areas connected to intact habitat will tend to regenerate following disturbance Natural successional processes may take decades Invasive and exotic species may need to be controlled Restoring Disturbed Lands 6-40

41 Controlled burns can help to restore fire- dependent ecosystems Manual removal of underbrush may be an acceptable substitute where burning is infeasible, but some functions of fire are difficult to replicate Some seeds require high temperatures in order to trigger germination Fire-Dependent Ecosystems 6-41

42 Soils are an essential component of terrestrial ecosystems Soil restoration involves: Removal of contaminants Reversing soil compaction Increasing soil organic matter Restoring soil ecological function Soil Restoration 6-42

43 8 points: Restore all soils disturbed during construction in the site’s vegetated area 10 points: Restore all soils disturbed as a result of previous development NW3.3 Restore Disturbed Soils 6-43

44 Prior to development, topsoil should be removed and stockpiled After development, topsoil is replaced on unpaved disturbed areas, and quickly vegetated to minimize erosion Restoring soils disturbed as a result of previous development may require amending and aerating soils NW3.3 Restore Disturbed Soils (cont’d) 6-44

45 OPTIONS: Capping Physical removal (dredging, soil removal) Bioremediation Phytoremediation Repairing Contamination 45

46 Bioremediation Use of bacteria to break down or transform contaminants Involves creation of environmental conditions conducive to bacterial function May require bioaugmentation with specialized bacteria or catalysts 6-46 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

47 Phytoremediation Use of plants to bind or break down contaminants Hyperaccumulators translocate metals from soil into plant tissues, which can be harvested Hybrid poplars detoxify organic solvents 6-47 NIH

48 Reducing Light Pollution Limit nighttime lighting to only what is necessary for safety Use lights that cast light downward rather than upward 6-48 NPS

49 Reducing Noise Pollution Plant trees to dampen noise Construct noise barriers around highways 6-49 FHWA

50 What issues might you encounter if you attempted to restore an abandoned farm to its predevelopment condition? Discussion Questions 6-50

51 How is it possible to restore streams, lakes, and wetlands if you have no control over what is happening in the watershed? Discussion Questions 6-51

52 Mitigate unavoidable ecosystem losses Restore ecological function wherever possible Consult with experts Remove barriers to ecological function Establish key species to jump-start self-organization Provide connectivity to existing habitat Be patient! Review 6-52

53 Society of Wetland Scientists. SWS Position Paper: Wetland Mitigation Banking. Society for Ecological Restoration, SER Primer on Ecological Restoration. NRCS Stream Restoration Portal. NRCS, Engineering Field Handbook, Chapter 18: Soil Bioengineering for Upland Slope Protection and Erosion Reduction ftp://ftp-nhq.sc.egov.usda.gov/NHQ/pub/outgoing/jbernard/CED- Directives/efh/EFH-Ch18.pdf ftp://ftp-nhq.sc.egov.usda.gov/NHQ/pub/outgoing/jbernard/CED- Directives/efh/EFH-Ch18.pdf USEPA. Principles for the Ecological Restoration of Aquatic Resources. Recommended Resources 6-53


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