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 this site creating a 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.

 

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:

Spring has sprung, including unwanted invasive plants!

Invasive plant species pose a serious threat to native riparian plant communities. Furthermore, some invasive plants, such as autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), fix atmospheric nitrogen and release it into the soil where it readily leaches into waterbodies. Many invasive plant populations can be found in riparian buffers throughout North Carolina. Invasive plant populations can often be successfully controlled using a variety of mechanical & chemical techniques. Large advances in native plant community success can typically be made in one to two years of invasive plant control efforts. Wildlands’ Land Stewardship Team has the skills and knowledge to identify and safely treat invasive species around aquatic environments.

While woody invasive species are best treated in the fall when they send nutrients to their roots to prepare for winter, herbaceous plants are best treated during the growing season before they set seed.  Below are just a few common invasive herbaceous plants that are best controlled in the spring.

 

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