Amazing things happen when we work with, rather than against, nature
Sweetwater Creek is a charming modest body of water that gently ebbs and flows through BMGR’s property, but just only last year, you didn’t even know it was there. Earlier this season, water restoration experts and masterminds Criag Sponholtz and Tom Biebighauser starting reviving the creek back to its full potential. Back in the pioneer days, people tried to sequester and utilize the creeks’ water for irrigation and tried to completely change its course. During the course of restoration, Craig & Tom found evidence buried deep below the surface which showed previous shore banks and pioneer ware like metal and wire fencing. They began by peeling back the thick and smothering layer of willows and thorn thickets that engulfed the stream on the south side of the property and with heavy machinery, placed natural and local lava rock boulders in strategic locations in order to create swells in certain areas.
The team achieved in raising the water table, keeping more water in certain areas and creating pools for all sorts of wildlife to flourish. At the end of all the digging and plowing, the team and volunteers from our community planted an abundance of native plants of all sorts along the banks, meadows and outskirts of the stream as they will now be consistently watered via underground seepage. You wouldn’t believe how fast the seeds and transplants took; the cattails shot up quickly, grasses filled in and the banks are now bright green, and the willows have definitely set down strong roots and it will only be a short while before we have a new entirely stronger and more plentiful ecosystem in our back yard.
About the Experts
Craig Sponholtz has developed his philosophy of watershed restoration based on over 15 years of hands-on work throughout the Southwest and more recently, worldwide. He has experience working in all parts of the watershed, from sheet and gully erosion in uplands, to degraded streams and fisheries, to desiccated wetlands and wildlife habitat. His approach tips the natural balance from degradation to stabilization, allowing self-healing processes to take hold by focusing on holistic solutions that address the root causes of degradation. He guides land owners and managers through the entire process of wetland & habitat restoration assessment, planning, design, implementation, monitoring and maintenance. BMGR is just another one of his many projects.
Tom Biebighauser has been enthusiastically restoring wetlands for over 34-years. He has designed over 5,000 wetland restoration projects and has successfully supervised the construction of over 1,800 wetlands in 22 states, British Columbia, Ontario, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan. Tom builds over 150-wetlands each year, and has developed highly successful and inexpensive techniques for constructing wetlands in urban areas, on rangeland, farmland, and in forested areas. He specializes in planning and building wetlands to provide habitat for endangered and threatened species of animals and plants.