The Chesapeake Bay Trust, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and with input from the Maryland Department of the Environment, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other agency and technical partners, announce four recipients of its new collaborative Restoration Research Grant Program. This program was created to answer key restoration questions to benefit the stream restoration process. It is the hope of the funding partners that answering these questions will ultimately lead to increased confidence in proposed restoration project outcomes, clarification of optimal site conditions most appropriate for particular restoration techniques, information useful to regulatory agencies in project permitting, and information that will help guide monitoring programs.
“The health of Chesapeake Bay starts with the health of tributaries in our backyards,” said Mark Belton, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. “The Restoration Research Grant Program will provide us with more in-depth scientific data and real, measurable results to help confirm that stream restoration efforts are reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that enter our waters.”
Through a unique partnership with several extensive brainstorming sessions, members of the regulatory staff of key permitting agencies and restoration professionals from the private and public sectors worked together to identify key restoration questions to focus this initial effort. To address key issues that plagued progress, partners settled on topics that included effectiveness of certain project types in certain site characteristics in accomplishing water quality and habitat goals, impacts of different construction techniques, and the stability of specific project designs. A total of $825,000 was available in funding for this grant program. Both not-for-profit entities (academic institutions, non-profit organizations) and for-profit entities were eligible to apply.
“At the Chesapeake Bay Trust, we want to invest our resources in watershed restoration projects that are going to have the most impact and best results in terms of improving water quality and habitat,” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “Through the Restoration Research Grant Program, we are able to fund research efforts that will answer important questions focused on the effectiveness of different stream restoration approaches and reduce costs.”
The projects funded through the 2015 Restoration Research Grant Program include:
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, $88,076
The project seeks to improve the application, design, and success of stream restoration structures. Through a literature review of design recommendations and stability of instream structures as well as a field-based hydraulics study of several types of instream structures and techniques, the amount of movement of material will be assessed. The ultimate goal of this project is to have a better idea of what happens from a physical perspective to certain types of instream structures used in restoration projects, whether these structures are “stable” (stay in place) in certain site conditions, and therefore what the best design guidance is for the use of these structures moving forward.
Straughan Environmental, Inc., $145,284
This study will quantify how sediment load, biological impairment, and riparian disturbance are related to certain types of construction techniques, specifically, installing the restoration project while the stream is still flowing in place (constructing “in the wet”) or pumping the stream around the area of disturbance (construction “in the dry”). This question arises often during the permitting process and can affect project timeline and cost. As a result of this study, information will become available to indicate whether construction in the wet results more, less, or similar short-term impacts as construction in the dry, which will assist project engineers and regulatory staff assessing future projects.
Smithsonian Institution, $299,034
This project will measure the removal of nutrients and suspended sediments by Regenerative Stormwater Conveyances (RSC) and relate removal efficiencies to impervious surface in the watershed, and the rate and variability of water inflow. Researchers will use continuous monitoring and automated sampling to measure performance under a range of flow conditions with contrasting impervious cover. Groundwater studies at one RSC will also investigate sources of dissolved iron and transfers of nutrients from surface to groundwater flow. As a result of this study, the restoration community will have a better sense of the site conditions under which this particular restoration practice may be most effective.
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), $292,606
This project focuses on how different restoration approaches, restoration age, and their landscape context affect net ecological function, termed “ecological uplift,” and whether improving a short section of stream can lead to net benefit downstream of the restoration site. Partners with this project will quantify uplift at 40 restoration sites to begin to identify site conditions and restoration techniques that lead to greatest restoration success. As a result of this study, the stream restoration community can use these findings when deciding where best to invest in restoration projects that will maximize benefits.
For more information on any of these specific grant awards, email Molly Alton Mullins at [email protected]. For more detailed information on the Restoration Research Grant Program, visit www.cbtrust.org/restorationresearch.