The innovative approach used in the Bacon Ridge Branch Restoration resulted in restored hydrology and function through the integration of stream channel flows with their adjacent floodplain wetlands. The installation of in-stream log jam structures effectively raised the water surface elevation and reconnected the floodplain. Groundwater monitoring wells located hundreds of feet from the stream channel have shown over three feet of increase in groundwater elevation following construction and have resulted in a restoration of the historic wetland hydroperiod.
Submerged aquatic vegetation (“SAV”) species have volunteered and are frequent throughout the site following construction, and large woody debris and dense native wetland vegetation provide floodplain habitat. The project has also provided unique educational opportunities for the estimated 2,500 youth that attend the camp annually to learn about the importance of a healthy environment and the role that ecological restoration can play in water quality and habitat.
Yellow perch adults, juveniles, and egg skeins (cases) were all observed within restored channels immediately following construction demobilization and the spring spawning run. Additionally, there are anecdotal reports that river otter, an apex predator of these systems, have been hunting fish onsite. The project is also being analyzed for carbon accounting, which the team anticipates will demonstrate that the carbon footprint of the project was greatly reduced through the incorporation of on-site materials — no stone was used in construction of the project, eliminating the carbon footprint of transporting stone from a quarry to the construction site. Furthermore, the carbon storage potential of the site is anticipated to increase due to floodplain hydrology enhancement – increasing carbon storage and processing within floodplain soils.