The Davis Branch Stream Restoration stands out as a great example of comprehensive restoration design, that ties together habitat improvement, monitoring and adaptive management throughout the project to achieve a resilient stream and floodplain system. The design transformed the over-widened and incised channel into a series of interconnected oxbow wetlands. The project also incorporated large woody debris and cobble riffles to promote bed and flow diversity as well as the complexity of floodplain and riparian habitats. Citizen science and sampling performed in conjunction with the Conservancy’s educational programs have documented some shifts in the benthic communities and some uncommon transient species, suggesting that the habitat diversity and complexity are consistent with the project’s goals.
After construction was completed, while vegetation was becoming established, beaver colonized the restoration site. Backwater conditions from the beaver dam were impacting the newly installed riparian vegetation, and there was concern about alternate flow paths developing in the floodplain, so a monitoring and adaptive management plan were implemented. To address the short-term concerns with alternate flow paths, beaver dam analogs were constructed to encourage the beaver to integrate them into their dam complex. Supplemental live stakes were installed to provide additional forage for the beaver.
Another test for the newly implemented project was the significant storm that hit the Ellicott City region on May 27, 2018, just after the first growing season. A site inspection was performed following the event, and evidence of significant overbank flooding was observed, but the restored stream system effectively dissipated the increased flow across its well-connected vegetated floodplain.