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River Projects: Restoration

Projects include: providing technical assistance to local and state governments and community groups in repairing the natural structure and function of rivers; and working with national partners to develop resource materials to improve decision-making about river restoration and management. Recent projects involve: streambank restoration, daylighting, aquatic habitat enhancements, and dam removal.




Trout habitat improved in Montana
Better living for people, dogs, and fish

Livingston, Montana (December 2003) - The Town of Livingston just finished restoration of a key section of the main stream running through town. Fleshman Creek, once a side channel of the Yellowstone River, was in sad shape. Gravel mined, ponded, trashed, and ignored, the stream corridor had accumulated years of muck and urban pollutants from stormwater runoff and wind-blown garbage. The Town, partnering with Trout Unlimited and the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program of the National Park Service, rebuilt 1700 feet of the Creek adjacent to Mayors Landing, a popular town dog-off-leash park. Stream geometry was adjusted to provide trout spawning and rearing habitat and floodplain areas were created for native plant colonization and to provide stream access for local residents. RTCA staff provided expertise in restoration project design, contract administration, and grant acquisition. For more information, please contact Gary Weiner at or (406) 587-1667.

Rappahannock River Watershed Restoration

Water quality and wildlife habitat improved through new riparian forest buffer: Upper Rappahannock watershed, VA (June 5, 2000)-Over the last two years the Friends of the Rappahannock River (FOR) have completed a series of streambank restoration projects to improve water quality and wildlife habitat within the upper Rappahannock watershed. This summer FOR completed the last of the major projects they have scheduled. To date, FOR has planted approximately 3 miles of forested buffer along tributaries to the Rappahannock, totaling close to 10 acres of new riparian forest. Almost a half-mile of actual streambank restoration, using soil bioengineering techniques, was completed in conjunction with these projects. These projects were undertaken exclusively on private lands. A total of $75,000 in federal, state and private funds were raised to complete the projects. State and local partners volunteered the use of heavy equipment, while dozens of FOR members provided the hand labor. RTCA assisted FOR in the public involvement that was necessary to gain approval by local landowners to conduct the projects on their property. Public involvement included the completion of a reduced impact guide, "Growing Greener in Your Rappahannock River Watershed," and the establishment of a "citizen network" in the upper watershed area. For more information, please contact: Chuck Barscz, Rivers & Trails Program, Philadelphia, PA, 215-597-6482.

North Fork River Gunnisson River Demonstration Project Completed

1 ¼ mile river restoration project will be used as model for a larger 15 mile restoration effort: Construction of the North Fork Gunnisson River Demonstration Project was completed on March 1st, 2000. Located on the North Fork Gunnisson River near Hotchkiss, Colorado, this 1 1/4 mile river restoration project is part of a larger, landowner-led effort to rehabilitate a 16-mile reach of river severely impacted by channelization, instream gravel mining, and removal of riparian vegetation. The river is actively downcutting and widening, destroying farmland and infrastructure, lowering the water table, and providing little habitat for fish and wildlife. Stable channel morphology was re-established on the project reach by narrowing and deepening the channel and re-establishing meanders. A variety of bank stabilization and habitat improvement measures were used, including numerous bioengineering treatments, root wad revetments, rock vanes, whole-tree sediment traps, random boulder placement and bank cover structures. All will be closely monitored for effectiveness and applicability to the remaining 15 miles of degraded river. Another key element of the demonstration project was building a cross-channel rock weir to sustainably divert water into a ditch, replacing annual riverbed bulldozing. Wetlands and backwater areas were also created.

The primary project partner is the North Fork River Improvement Association, a group of local riverside farmers, landowners, irrigators and gravel miners who are trying to improve the degraded state of the river. Staff from the Rivers and Trails Program of the National Park Service provided assistance in the design of a stable channel, bioengineered revetments, and in-stream structures. The project was awarded an NPS Challenge Cost-Share grant in the amount of $25,000 to assist in the cost of building the $250,000 demonstration project. A dozen state and federal agencies assisted in this high profile, landowner-led effort, including the US Geological Service, CO Water Conservation Board, CO Soil Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the US Forest Service. For more information about this project please contact: Gary Weiner, RTCA, Denver, CO. 303-969-2669



(The following resources were developed in partnership with the Rivers & Trails program)

Flows and Recreation: A Guide to Studies for River Professionals (document)

Federal Interagency Stream Corridor Restoration Manual (document)

"Taking a Second Look: Communities and Dam Removal" (video)

NRCS Restoration Manual

Economic Benefits of Small Dam Removal (document)

Dam Removal - A New Option For A New Century or summary (report)

Daylighting and Restoring Streams in Rural Community City Centers (case studies of five river restoration/daylighting projects used to revitalize small communities across America. It is a companion to the 'Giving New Life to Streams' Brochure, below)

Giving New Life To Streams: Tales From Two Towns (daylighting brochure)

Riverwork Book ( 13 MB) Local river conservation planning efforts in a step-by-step format.

Floods, Floodplains and Folks (19 MB) A casebook in managing rivers for multiple uses. Case studies of multiple-objective approaches to river planning and flood loss reduction

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