Wetlands Restoration

Riparian wetlands help dissipate floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, filter out pollution, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and sustain the health of downstream water sources. Runoff, pollution, and development contribute to wetland degradation. The functionality of wetlands within the Mianus River Watershed contributes to the overall health of the entire water system, an important drinking water source for many. The Mianus River Watershed comprises over 30 major wetlands, each with a varying level of health and functionality based on a number of contributing variables.

Heavy machinery required to clear vines

Mianus River Gorge has the expertise to scientifically evaluate the health and functionality of a wetland system, identify threats, and determine a course of action. For example, if a wetland is threatened due to road runoff, yet the diversity of its native species is intact, we believe that if we eliminate the threat the wetland has the potential to repair itself.  Conversely, if invasive species have taken over and changed the structure of the wetlands, we believe the damage is irreparable without a dedicated restoration project.

MRG successfully executed a significant restoration project, thus completing the cycle from initial assessment and evaluation, to identification of threats, determination of course of action, and finally to completed restoration.  Restoration of the Lockwood Pond II serves as a model for other compromised wetlands in the Mianus River Watershed that would benefit from restoration. It also demonstrates to municipalities that restoration is possible to improve the functionality and health of wetlands.

Herbaceous Communities Restoration

Many wildflower and herbaceous plant species common in the Gorge 30 years ago are now very rare. Deer, invasive species, and illegal collecting have eliminated some species. Restoration of these species could have broad implications for similar activities elsewhere and prove valuable in helping buffer ecological communities, particularly on steep slopes, from the effects of climate change.

MRG staff and a local scout troop built 24 3’X6′ raised beds and one larger wetland bed to plant with seeds and/or rhizomes locally collected from sustainable sources. All beds are protected from predators and represent nearly 30 different species to date. Many species that were planted several years ago are now bearing seed that we can use to plant in the Preserve. In 2018 we planted back into the Preserve over 2,456 seeds representing four species. In addition to seeds, another 40+ mature plants representing 5 different species were planted in the Preserve. We also collected thousands of seeds from other local wild and sustainable sources to plant back into our garden beds (to increase the genetic diversity) and to use for restoration projects.

Each year, as more plants mature, we will have more seed to use for restoration activities. MRG protects new herbaceous communities by erecting unobtrusive fencing and in its deer exclosures; rapid response and control of non-native invasive species; and MRG’s ongoing Deer Management Program that has been effective in the reduction of the local deer population.

Stewardship & Land Management News

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