Stream Restoration Kicks Offs in Washington D.C.
Stream biologist Sandy Davis watches construction on the Watts Branch restoration project. USFWS photo.
On Friday February 4, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and participating District partners came together to celebrate the beginning of the Watts Branch stream restoration project in Washington D.C. The project is a focus of environmental restoration and urban renewal efforts.
Mayor Vincent Gray, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Anacostia Riverkeeper Dottie Yunger, and dozens of local organizations, D.C. government agencies, and federal agencies were at the site which, when completed in this fall, will enhance the city's fish and wildlife resources and increase the quality of the water flowing through Watt's Branch into the Anacostia River and, eventually, into the Chesapeake bay.
Watts Branch currently lacks suitable riffle and pool habitat for many of aquatic wildlife, and has significant bank erosion occurring throughout the proposed 1.8-mile restoration area. The design uses a natural channel approach that incorporates instream structures to improve riffle and pool habitat and to reduce bank erosion. Soil lifts, matting, and the planting of native grasses, shrubs, and trees will stabilize the stream banks, further reducing erosion.
Wildlife that will benefit from the restoration of streamside forest and floodplain habitats includes the Kentucky warbler, Acadian flycatcher, willow flycatcher, woodcock, prothonotary warbler, wood thrush, red-eyed vireo, northern parula, and yellow warbler. Cooper's hawk, red-shouldered hawk, and barred owl are also found in the area. Great blue heron, green heron, black-crowned heron, Louisiana waterthrush, American black duck, wood duck, marsh wren, and mallard populate the wetland areas.
The watershed historically provided important spawning and nursery habitat for fish like alewife, American eel, American shad, Atlantic sturgeon and striped bass. The reduction in bank erosion on the Watts Branch will improve water quality and benefit aquatic species downstream of the restoration area.
From left: DC Mayor Vinvent Gray, Dr. Hamid Karimi, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, George Hawkins (DCWASA), Yvette Alexander (DC City Council), Shawn Garvin (EPA). USFWS photo.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office partnered with the District Department of Environment and Natural Resources Conservation Service to assess, design, and implement the restoration. The partners are working with several District agencies (Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Public Works, and Department of Transportation) as well as local environmental organizations, commercial businesses, and local citizens groups to restore Watts Branch and pursue other opportunities that demonstrate urban stream restoration using a watershed approach and made possible through unique partnerships.
For more information contact:
Watts Branch Design Report and Watts Branch Assessment Report can be found on our Stream publications page.
Additional photos can be found on Chesapeake Bay Field Office's facebook page.