Presentation at River Restoration Northwest Symposium

February 1-3, 2011. River Restoration Northwest ’s 10th Annual Symposium:
Looking Back and Moving Forward
Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. “Habitat Restoration and Habitat Establishment for Multiple Listed Species at a Small Project Site”- Presented by Lia Webb, Soil Scientist and Plant Ecologist.

Abstract: Creek and wetland restoration can incorporate plant, animal, and habitat diversity into project design to mimic natural landscape level biodiversity on the small scale. An inclusive approach to project design is especially important for improved long-term functionality of created wetland and habitat systems. This case study will demonstrate how habitats for multiple special-status species can be incorporated and overlaid within a wetland mitigation project by including restoration of historic site functions in creek, wetland, transitional, and upland habitats.

For this project, the process involved researching and documenting existing as well as presumed historic habitat structures, wetland functions, and hydrology modeling at the project site. Protection and management measures for preferred habitat types of selected special-status species were incorporated into the restoration and landscape plan and project specifications. The project included creek and riparian restoration, mitigation for wetland impacts, as well as habitat creation for special-status species that could be encouraged within enhanced, restored, and created habitats. The result at the 12 acre project site included: 1.0 acre freshwater marsh created and enhanced for San Francisco garter snake foraging habitat; 0.2 acre wetland pond enhancement for California red-legged frog and western pond turtle habitat; 2.1 acres of riparian forest enhanced and restored to remove migration barriers and improve transitional habitat for dusky-footed wood rat and various riparian species; 2.7 acres serpentine grassland enhancement for Bay checkerspot butterfly and garter snake habitat; and 3.8 acres enhanced and created open oak woodland for improved garter snake habitat. This case study concluded that because many species utilize both wetland and upland habitat, diversity can be encouraged by including adjacent upland habitat enhancement and multi-species overlays into the wetland mitigation design.

This project develops an integrative approach to restoration by incorporating multiple project goals, including species-specific requirements, habitat diversity, and functional improvements, to name a few. Historically, river and wetland restoration projects have been successful at serving topical project goals, such as flood control, erosion reduction, or repair of other apparent site issues. When endangered species are involved at a site, the project designers have the leverage to require a holistic approach to accommodate a diversity of habitats for foraging, breeding, and dispersal, for the potential listed species. The approach used for the Homestead Pond site involved extensive hydrologic modeling, as presented in a separate conference session and can be applied to a range of future projects.

Construction of the Homestead Pond project is planned for start October 2010 and the total estimated construction cost is $600,000. The Mitigation and Monitoring Plan for the Homestead Pond project site includes monitoring the design wetland for 10-years with the basis of success being dependant on the acreage of habitats created, establishment of wetland vegetation, and hydrologic parameters. This project is relevant to land managers, government representatives, general public, and contractors, because it demonstrates the importance of species-specific construction protection and management measures for a range of special-status species types, as well as how to incorporate diverse and species-specific habitats into project design.

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