For more information,
contact Rich Starr
Stream Restoration Program
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
177 Admiral Cochrane Dr.
Annapolis, MD 21401
Looking for a report? Visit our stream publications page.
Still glides the stream, and shall forever glide; the form remains; the function never dies
William Wordsworth,The River Duddon, 1820
Streams Bring Life to a Watershed
The Chesapeake Bay watershed includes all the land, rivers,creeks and streams that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. There are more than100,000 miles of streams and creeks in this watershed and virtually everyone living here lives within a half-mile of a stream or creek that eventually flows into the Bay.
Streams shape our landscape. Flowing water transforms land features, transporting and depositing soil from one place to another. Deposited onto a floodplain, these mineral-rich soils are highly prized as farmland. Streams are an important source of freshwater for our reservoirs.
Many wildlife species depend on these waterways. Streams provide spawning and breeding habitat for fish and other wildlife like aquatic insects, turtles, frogs, toads and salamanders. The land alongside streams is also important as habitat for amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Known as riparian habitat, these areas provide food, water, shelter and shade.
Nationally, freshwater rivers and streams have been seriously degraded by our activities on the land. Sediment from runoff and in-stream erosion are the primary sources of non-point source pollution in our nation’swaterways. Ninety-two to 98 percent of the miles of rivers and streams are so altered that they no longer fit the criteria for National Wild and Scenic Rivers or U. S. Geologic Survey Benchmark Streams. These alterations reduce habitat for fish and wildlife. Due to loss of habitat and pollution,33 to 75 percent of aquatic species are rare or extinct.
The Chesapeake Bay watershed reflects this national picture. Fifty percent of the stream miles lack sufficient buffers, and many, if not most, of lowland streams have been physically altered by 300 years of agriculture and development.
Stream Assessment and Restoration Program
To address stream resource issues, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office developed a stream restoration program which provides assistance to landowners and local, state and federal agencies in evaluating and restoring stream systems.
The program focuses in three areas:
- Training and education in stream assessment and restoration;
- Technical assistance; and
- Design and construction of demonstration projects.
Applied Fluvial Geomorphology Courses
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office and many federal and state agencies and conservation organizations cosponsored a series of applied fluvial geomorphology workshops. The workshops are extremely popular with participants, representing local, state and federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Participants learn basic concepts of stream assessment and behavior and how it applies to stream and riparian restoration. The Stream Restoration Program continues to support River Short Courses through our partners and the National Conservation Training Center.
Stream Corridor Restoration
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office stream staff with other federal agencies developed a Stream Corridor Restoration handbook, which advocates a multi-disciplinary approach to stream corridor restoration through evaluation of principles, processes, and practices. Attaining in the use of the handbook and basics of stream corridor assessment and restoration is offered by the National Conservation Training Center.
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office stream staff provide training in stream survey techniques and basic data analysis through cooperation with other state and nonprofit agencies. For instance stream staff assisted the Virginia Riparian Advisory Committee in conducting a series of hands-on riparian restoration projects which trained 500 federal, state and local resource management staff throughout Virginia. Technical Assistance
Maryland Stream Survey
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office stream staff is leading an effort to survey streams at U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gage stations in four hydro-physiographic regions in Maryland to develop quantitative regional relationships between drainage area and stream discharge and dimensions.This is a cooperative project with the Maryland Department of Transportation,State Highway Administration (SHA) and USGS, along with advisory agencies:Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Department of the Environment,Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Survey results will provide basic information to reduce impacts to streams from road crossings, develop improved stream channel restoration designs, and evaluate stream channel conditions. The Piedmont physiographic region survey is complete and the report: Bankfull Discharge and Channel Characteristics of Streams in the Piedmont Hydrologic Region is available for download. Download a copy of the Maryland Stream Survey in .PDF format (8.8 megabytes). You will need a copy of Adobe's Acrobat Reader in order to view and print this document. The second report of the Maryland Stream Survey is available: Bankfull Discharge and Channel Characteristics of Streams in the Allegheny Plateau and Valley and Ridge Hydrologic Regions (10.3 megabytes). Additionally, the third report, Bankfull Discharge and Channel Characteristics of Streams in the Coastal Plain Hydrologic Region is available as well.
Patuxent River Naval Air Station
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office stream staff is assessing stream conditions and stability in one of five major watersheds at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station (PRNAS). The report provides information and recommendations for stream and riparian protection and restoration.The PRNAS natural resources staff will evaluate this effort as a model for the remaining watersheds at the facility as well as other Navy facilities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Riparian Forest Buffers
Chesapeake Bay Field Office stream staff is developing a rapid riparian and channel assessment method in support of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Federal Agency Committee. The Bay Program partners have committed to restoring 2,010 miles of riparian forest buffer throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed by the year 2010.
Helping Other Partners
The Chesapeake Bay Field Office stream staff assessed the design and monitoring plan for stream restoration projects in Maryland and Virginia for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and local government partners, and in Maryland for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE). Staff is currently assisting the COE with assessing channel conditions and making recommendations for enhancement as part of the Anacostia Levee Corridor Study.
In Carroll County, Maryland, stream staff designed and constructed a demonstration stream restoration project in a rural watershed targeted by the State of Maryland for comprehensive watershed restoration.The project restored one-half mile of Alloway Creek and one acre of riparian forest habitat.
In Washington County, Maryland, stream staff designed and constructed a demonstration stream restoration project on 1,500 feet of Marsh Run, a spring-fed stream degraded by agricultural and livestock activities. The project, a cooperative effort with the Washington County Soil Conservation District, demonstrates restoration practices to local landowners.
Tributary to Little Paint Branch
Stream staff trained Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS) engineers in stream assessment, design and construction on 1,700feet of a tributary to Little Paint Branch in Prince Georges County, Maryland,on the grounds of the U. S. Department of Agriculture Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC). Conducted in collaboration with the NRCS and BARC,the project reduces sediment into Little Paint Branch and demonstrates stream restoration techniques. The site is used for bioengineering workshops by NRCS and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Links to Other Stream Sites
U.S. Geological Survey site:
EPA National Showcase Watersheds:
Stream Corridor Restoration: Principles, Processes, and Actions: