Project Description

Shenandoah Headwaters Watershed Assessment & Pilot Restoration

Restoration Need

Bergton sits near the confluence of the German River and Crab Run, headwater streams of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, which flows into the Shenandoah and the Potomac River before reaching the Chesapeake Bay. The North Fork represents 18% of Virginia’s contribution to the Chesapeake Bay and almost 7% of the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The watershed remains 62% forested. Of its agricultural land, 94% is considered Prime or Important because of fertile well-drained soils that support livestock, hay and poultry. A total of 2,606 miles of perennial and intermittent streams flow through the North Fork Watershed. Out of the 169 miles of cold-water streams, 100 support either native or stocked trout.  Out of the 2, 606 total miles of stream 272.5 miles fail to meet their designated uses due to fecal coliform bacteria, temperature, pH, or benthic macroinvertebrate bioassessment impairments. Portions of the watershed are currently listed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality as an impaired stream for bacteria and aquatic life.

This is a long-term project that started  in 2011 with Eastern Mennonite University’s (EMU) work to generate base level mapping and outline generalized watershed characteristics and threats. In partnership with Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Ecosystem Services conducted a watershed assessment on 17 miles of streams. From the preliminary research and field-based watershed assessment efforts we identified the ability to restore critical wood turtle and trout habitat, and to improve water quality through the reduction of in-stream erosion and agricultural runoff.

Design Solution

Out of the watershed assessment, the Bennett’s Run Stream Restoration Project was ranked highest for a pilot project.  A restoration design was created for 1,700 linear feet of degraded perennial stream along Bennett Run. The restoration was designed to stabilize the significantly eroding stream channel, reduce nutrients and sediments from being transporting downstream, increase native riparian vegetation and improve physical aquatic habitat.

Goals

  • Watershed Planning
  • Educational Outreach
  • Water quality improvement
  • Conservation Partnership Development

ServicesAssessment, Watershed and Floodplain Studies, Stream Restoration Design