Beyond window dressing – native plants in the floodplain

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Meghan Q.N. Fellows, Alex Darr, Chris Ruck, Jonathan Witt, Charles Smith

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The number and scope of stream restoration projects has increased substantially over the past decade. Although early efforts attempted to treat the stream corridor as a whole ecosystem; practice and crediting protocols have focused on channel-centric approaches. The predominant approach now appears to arrest rates of erosion through designs that stabilize the streambanks, such as natural channel design (NCD); based on the conceptual framework for understanding stream processes, called the Stream Functions Pyramid (Harmon et al. 2012). However, Castro and others (2019) suggest that biological (e.g. plant) aspects of the floodplain, are key to establishing and maintaining higher level stream functions. Floodplain residence time, bacterial and fungal community, and plant nativity all contribute to aspects of stream corridor ecosystem function. The presentation will detail different approaches, and the ecological significance of each, Fairfax County, Virginia is applying to projects restoring floodplain complexity and function in an Urban Piedmont setting. Approaches follow traditional best practices including preservation, conservation, enhancement and restoration providing a toolbox of options. These new approaches led to the development of a county-specific restoration wheel to track restoration success.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program