Join us at the 2023 National Stream Restoration Conference in Baltimore, MD | August 21-23

Wildlands is thrilled to be a sponsor at this year’s National Stream Restoration Conference. We will be at booth #A34, so come by and say hello! We will also have numerous team members giving presentations on a variety of topics spanning from the benefits of design-build projects, macroinvertebrates’ impact on biological monitoring, and a feature on our work with Anne Arundel County, MD.





Please see below for our presentation schedule:

Tuesday, August 22nd
E Session | Kent
8:30 AM ETCase Study: Marylea Farm Stream Restoration Site Biological Monitoring
PRESENTERS:  Mike Fowler, PE, Senior Project Manager and Carolyn Lanza, Environmental Scientist  
Moderator:  Bob Siegfried, RES

A Session | Fells Point
11:30 AM ETThe Value of the Design-Build Experience
PRESENTERS:  Ty Williams, EI, Environmental Designer and Doug Smith, Finance & Resource Manager with Wildlands Construction, LLC
Moderator:  Greg Golden

C Session | Watertable
11:50 AM ETAnne Arundel County’s Approach to Meeting MS4 and TMDL Requirements through Turnkey Restoration Projects
PRESENTERS:  Abigail Vieira, PE, Water Resources Engineer and Erik Michelsen, Deputy Director with Anne Arundel County’s Department of Public Works
Moderator:  Stephen Pawlak, JMT

From the Stewardship Corner: Adaptations of Aquatic Plants

What’s so special about aquatic plants? They provide vertical structure and habitat for animals in water systems, as well as trap sediments, slow the velocity of water, and even absorb pollutants such as heavy metals and nutrient run-off. Aquatic plants, aka hydrophytes, have several unique adaptations to help them survive in the water. Photos 1: Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) at Falling Creek Mitigation Site, North Carolina; Photo 2: Soft-stemmed bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani) at Marylea Farm Mitigation Site, Maryland


Emergent plants are rooted in water and partially grow above the water surface. Broadleaf watermilfoil has two shapes of leaves. The above-water leaves are triangular, bright green, and produce axillary flowers. The filamentous form of the submerged leaves are excellent at catching fine sediment and they bear a reproductive structure called a turion. Photo 3 & 4: Broadleaf watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) at Dudley Mill Pond Mitigation Site, North Carolina


Submerged plants are rooted into aquatic substrate or without a root system. They regrow from buds below the water surface. Spongy tissues provide structure and buoyancy while in the water. A submerged aquatic plant quickly becomes limp outside of water. Quick tip: if you’re trying to identify an aquatic plant, it helps to keep it in a dish of water.


Floating-leaved plants are rooted into aquatic substrate with leaves that float on the water surface. The American white water-lily (Nymphea odorata) leaves are covered by a waxy cuticle that repels water. This prevents the leaves from rotting. Photo 5 & 6: American Water-Lily (Nymphaea odorata) at Dudley Mill Pond Mitigation Site, North Carolina


Free-floating plants are found suspended on water surface with no roots attached. Swollen bladderwort (Utricularia inflata) has a whorl of leaf structures called “rafts” that look and float like pool noodles! Photo 7: Swollen bladderwort at Dudley Mill Pond Mitigation Site, North Carolina


  • Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) at Falling Creek Mitigation Site

Conserving Eastern Hellbender habitat at Wildlands Engineering’s Falcon Mitigation Site

North Carolina is home to one of the largest aquatic salamanders found in the United States, the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus a. alleganiensis). The Eastern Hellbender can grow to be more than two feet long and is found in perennial streams with fast flowing, cool, and clear water. Adult hellbenders spend most of their life under large, flat rocks that shelter them, whereas larval and juvenile hellbenders hide beneath large rocks and under small stones in gravel beds. Fine sediments from eroding stream beds and banks can harm these key habitats for this unique species. The Eastern Hellbender is currently listed as a US Federal Species of Concern (FSC) and a North Carolina Special Concern (NCSC).


Wildlands is currently working alongside state and federal agencies to provide ecological and water quality improvements at our Falcon Mitigation Site located in the western part of North Carolina. The streams within this mitigation site are part of a natural area rated as ‘high’ functioning by the NC Natural Heritage Program due to the richness of aquatic species it supports. Both Wildlands and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) noted the potential benefit of performing a restoration project within this important stream community.  To specifically benefit Eastern Hellbenders, Wildlands coordinated with NCWRC and conducted Eastern Hellbender surveys, as well as eDNA sampling during the design phase at the Site. Snorkeling within project streams was done to investigate existing habitats and try to identify any existing populations. Results from the study did not identify individual species within the project limits; however, a positive environmental DNA (eDNA) sample was recorded at the downstream end of the project which indicates that there is at least one animal within less than 1 km upstream from this point. Wildlands discussed areas that should be protected with NCWRC and is implementing species aimed habitats using large flat boulders to provide additional nesting areas within the channel post construction.


Through our restoration efforts, Wildlands will restore and enhance over 5,700 linear feet of stream by excluding livestock, creating stable stream banks, restoring a forest in agriculturally maintained buffer areas, and restoring riparian habitat. The site will also be protected in perpetuity by a 15.5-acre conservation easement. These actions will reduce fecal, nutrient, and sediment inputs to project streams, and ultimately to Cartoogechaye Creek and the Little Tennessee River, as well as reconnect instream and terrestrial habitats on the Site. Habitat and water quality are important factors for hellbender survival rates as they breathe entirely through their skin and cannot tolerate high sedimentation rates or low dissolved oxygen levels. Changes in watershed land use and streamside management have been the primary factor negatively impacting this species. During construction Wildlands and the contractor will be especially careful and observant for animals when working in the channel and relocate “out of harm’s way” per NCWRC guidance.


Wildlands is excited to be a part of this conservation effort for the Eastern Hellbender!


  • NCWRC snorkeling for Eastern Hellbenders while Wildlands employees collected GPS location data at the existing Falcon Mitigation Site.



Contacts at NCWRC: Lori Williams and Andrea Leslie


Wildlands Engineering continues to protect the dwarf-flowered heartleaf

In April of this year, Wildlands’ Double Rock Mitigation Project wrapped up construction, completed by Wildlands Construction. Located in the Catawba River basin, a unique aspect of this project is the presence of a rare species of plant called the dwarf-flowered heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora)!


The dwarf-flowered heartleaf species is only found in several counties across North and South Carolina and is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. However, in 2021, the USFWS proposed to de-list it. When the dwarf-flowered heartleaf was initially put on the endangered species list in 1989, there were only 24 known populations, distributed across North and South Carolina. Since then, through the combined efforts of various non-profits, land conservation organizations, and private landowners, the dwarf-flowered heartleaf has made a tremendous comeback. There are currently over 120 known populations, of which several of these sites are thriving with more than 1,000 plants, many are found on protected conservation lands.


Wildlands has had the opportunity to partner with many organizations, as well as private landowners, to create, implement, and preserve these stable habitats for endangered species such as the dwarf-flowered heartleaf. The organizations that have played a key role in conserving this species are: Foothills Land Conservancy, Catawba Lands Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service, Broad River Greenway, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Duke Energy, private landowners, State of North Carolina.


In 2023, Wildlands scientist identified and delineated the dwarf-flowered heartleaf population alongside USFWS within our project area. Wildlands worked closely with Wildlands Construction team to avoid any impacts to the population and conserve 3 acres of the dwarf-flowered heartleaf population and habitat that will be protected in perpetuity within the conservation easement. Wildlands is thrilled to be a part of the dwarf-flowered heartleaf’s conservation effort through the implementation of the Double Rock Mitigation Project.