Unique ‘Pink Sundew’ plant spotted at Wildlands‘ Devil’s Racetrack Mitigation Site

This spring, Wildlands’ land stewards found a new population of pink sundew (Drosera capillaris) within a restored wetland at our Devil’s Racetrack Mitigation Site.  The pink sundew is a carnivorous, perennial plant found in pine savannas and wet, peaty areas. They are low-lying plants with rounded traps of sticky, tentacle-like leaves to hold their insect prey. This specimen was the first such sighting at the site and is also believed to be the first county record of the species (LeGrand et.al., 2021). Prior to restoration, the site was in agricultural production for decades.  Seeing this plant recolonize after so many years in agriculture is truly remarkable!

The Devil’s Racetrack Mitigation Site successfully reached the close-out milestone in August 2021 and is now in long term stewardship.

Source: LeGrand, H., B. Sorrie, and T. Howard. 2021. Vascular Plants of North Carolina [Internet]. Raleigh (NC): North Carolina Biodiversity Project and North Carolina State Parks. Available from https://auth1.dpr.ncparks.gov/flora/index.php.

 

Wildlands helps NCDOT protect critical aquatic habitat to mitigate impacts from construction of Interstate 540

In 2018, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) worked out an agreement with the Southern Environmental Law Center to mitigate potential effects to critical aquatic habitat from the Interstate 540 expansion. As part of this agreement, NCDOT committed to preserving land along the Little River and Buffalo Creek in northeastern Johnston County. Wildlands was one of the firms selected by and contracted with NCDOT to acquire the necessary land to meet the agreement conditions.

This past summer, Wildlands met with landowners along Little River and Buffalo Creek and successfully purchased 450 acres of conservation easements along 37,897 linear feet of stream (over 7 miles) from 27 different landowners. The conservation easement areas contain Little River Aquatic Habitat, dubbed by the North Carolina Heritage Program as a Natural Heritage Area with exceptional collective conservation value. This habitat area hosts imperiled species, including the dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), yellow lance (Elliptio lanceolata), Atlantic pigtoe (Fusconaia masoni), Neuse River waterdog (Necturus lewisi), and Carolina madtom (Noturus furiosus).  The project landowners expressed deep love for the streams and were excited to do their part to protect them in perpetuity.

Wildlands will work with subcontractors this winter to plant native hardwood trees on previously unforested areas within the conservation easements. Triangle Land Conservancy, who assisted in the acquisitions, will serve as the long-term land steward.

Click here to view enlarged map »

Wildlands’ Norkett Branch Mitigation Site reaches the “close-out” milestone

Wildlands is pleased to announce that the NC Interagency Review Team (IRT) has approved the Norkett Branch Mitigation Site in Union County for close out! As the prime consultant for this full-delivery project, Wildlands performed existing site assessment, conservation easement acquisition, permitting, stream restoration design, construction, and seven years of post-construction monitoring of geomorphic stability and vegetation. As a result of these successful efforts, this project delivered 10,098 stream credits to the Division of Mitigation Services to offset unavoidable impacts in the Yadkin 05 River Basin. For the past ten years, our team has been dedicated to creating this 30-acre riparian corridor and respite habitat to benefit the ecology and water quality in the Yadkin watershed.

 

Wildlands Completes Ward Mill Dam Removal

Wildlands recently partnered with the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation & Development Council, MountainTrue, and American Rivers to remove the Ward Mill Dam, located in Watauga County, NC. The dam was a concrete and rock structure approximately 25 feet high and stretching 110 feet wide across the river. The on-site historic mill and powerhouse, which served the community for over a century, was preserved and protected in place. The removal of the dam has reconnected 35 miles of aquatic habitat in the mainstem of the Watauga River, dozens of miles of tributary reaches and has returned free-flowing aquatic habitat and greater resiliency for the eastern hellbender, native fishes, mussels, and other riverine species. The North Carolina and Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization tools highly ranked Ward Mill Dam as a removal priority for the connectivity benefits.

 

Wildlands conducted assessment and sediment analyses to evaluate impounded sediment volume, sediment potential for contamination, and to analyze the ability of the Watauga River to assimilate sediment release from the dam removal and develop a sediment management plan. Wildlands used USGS gage flow data, sediment grain size distribution analysis, and hydraulic and sediment transport modeling to support project recommendations.

 

 

Also, check out this project video by Blue Ridge Resource Conservation & Development Council.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 319 Grants Fund Wildlands’ Recent Urban Ecological Restoration Work

McPherson Park Improvement Project | Greenville, SC

Through an EPA 319 Grant (Grant), Wildlands Engineering, Inc. (Wildlands) designed, permitted, and oversaw infrastructure and stream improvements within McPherson Park in Greenville. This project features natural channel design practices, bioengineering measures, and stormwater control measures. The City of Greenville (City) replaced impervious features (e.g., concrete swale, asphalt parking) with bioswale retrofits and pervious pavement to infiltrate and filter stormwater runoff, providing a water quality benefit to downstream receiving waters, such as Richland Creek. Native river rock within bioretention facilities, stamped concrete pavers and vegetative geolifts enhance park aesthetics and serve to stabilize stream banks and treat and improve water quality.

The urban environment presents a unique challenge for ‘natural’ design approaches, but serves as a great platform for public outreach and education. This project not only provides stream and water quality improvements but integrates a variety of features to support public education. Through our partnership with the City, our team was able to anticipate design and construction hurdles. The project was phased to minimize interruptions to the City’s citizens (and park visitors) in a high-traffic urban park. Completed in August 2019, this project has proven to be a benefit to both park infrastructure and the environment. Check out the before and after photos below.

 

Gills Creek Stream Restoration and Water Quality Improvement Project | Columbia, SC

Through a separate Grant, the Gills Creek Watershed Association (GCWA) partnered with Wildlands to assess and design stream stabilization and stormwater water quality improvements along a reach of Gills Creek, an impaired 303(d)-listed stream, within the City of Columbia and Richland County, South Carolina. Wildlands’ design for this project improves water quality, provides in-stream habitat, and enhances the aesthetic benefits to this reach of Gills Creek while fostering community use of this unique urban resource.

Through a coordinated effort by the project’s stakeholders, this project was advertised to contractors in March 2021, with an anticipated construction notice-to-proceed in late April. This is a major accomplishment for the GCWA and a demonstration of the association’s continued efforts to improve water quality and benefit natural resources within the Gills Creek watershed.


McPherson Park Improvement Project before and after photos:

Wildlands’ project wins NAFSMA’s Green Infrastructure First Place Award!

We are thrilled to announce that our Reedy Creek Stream Restoration Project has been awarded NAFSMA’s Green Infrastructure First Place Award. Click here to view full list of awards »

Wildlands served as the prime consultant for this project, which was the first design-build project to generate stream and wetland mitigation units for the City of Charlotte Umbrella Stream and Wetland Mitigation Bank.

 

Wildlands has completed a 9-element watershed plan for Riverlink

In partnership with Blue Earth and other local firms, Wildlands recently completed a nine-element watershed study for the Central Asheville Watershed Restoration Plan for Riverlink. Wildlands provided a comprehensive and easily accessible ArcGIS online watershed plan application. The application is an interactive map designed to be active and adaptable to real-time, ongoing changes within the watershed.

Check out the interactive ArcGIS map below or visit: https://bit.ly/3i141jS

Read more about Asheville’s plan to restore the urban streams and community in this article by Citizen-Times, Asheville: https://bit.ly/365AMtF

 

 

Wildlands completes stream restoration project under Maryland State Highway Association’s first full-delivery contract

 

Under Maryland State Highway Association’s first full-delivery contract for stream restoration services, Wildlands completed construction on the Marylea Farm Stream Restoration project in Harford County, MD in May 2020. The project restored 9,470 linear feet of stream on Thomas Run and three unnamed tributaries in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Thomas Run and its tributaries are classified as “recreational trout waters,” so the design of Thomas Run and the lower gradient tributary reaches consisted of riffles and pools that incorporate large woody debris, boulders, brush, and lunker structures to enhance aquatic habitat. The steeper tributary reaches incorporate boulder steps and cascades with deep pools to provide additional aquatic habitat.

The 32-acre conservation easement preserves four archaeological sites containing Native American artifacts as well as existing wetlands, some of which provide potential habitat for the northern bog turtle. The riparian buffer was planted along the stream channels with early successional native vegetation comprised of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous species. Small areas around the planting perimeter were seeded with native wildflowers to provide habitat for the monarch butterflies, which were prevalent at the site preconstruction. By closeout, the project will provide 9,885 credits towards the State Highway Administration’s program to comply with the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and their MS4 permit.

 

Wildlands Engineering restores stream at Veterans Healing Farm

The Wildlands Team enjoyed partnering with Resource Institute to restore the stream that runs through the Veterans Healing Farm. This project is much more that improving a stream, it provides a serene opportunity for veterans to connect with nature and reflect on their mission to serve others and the environment. CLICK HERE » to learn more about this project.

Also, be sure to check out this video about the project that Veterans Healing Farm put together.