In May of 2018, the Wetland and Stream restoration project was completed. It took 3 years of planning with the help of Tom Biebighauser, a Wildlife Biologist and Wetland Ecologist and a Craig Sponholtz, the founder and owner of Watershed Artisans, Inc, an internationally recognized stream and wetland restoration designer.
The project was formulated to due to a man-made deep and long ditch that was dug along the base of the mountain to divert the naturally flowing springs that at one time flowed onto the valley in a sheet-like pattern, saturating soils and supporting a diversity of wetlands. Erosional head-cuts were advancing up the ditches that were dug causing erosion, and a deepening and widening of the ditch. The head-cuts were eliminating surface water and were further drying pasture fields by lowering the elevation of groundwater.
Livestock also played a role by compacting soils in and around the drained wetlands, leveling tufts and mounds, filling shallow depressions. Compacted soils are less likely to absorb rainfall, and support a low diversity of plants. Animals that survive by digging burrows are affected by the compacted soils and most likely will not be active in compacted areas. Because the texture of the soil over much of the area is high in clay, horses and cows walking on ground compacted soils over the springs, greatly reduced flow.
Restoring the wetlands controls erosion, clean runoff, and restore a diversity of attractive, flowering plants (key for pollination). The flow of water from springs and the elevation of groundwater recharged groundwater, forming streams, and helped restore a diversity of wetland types.
May 2018 – July 2018
Wetlands are considered to be the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. Forty-three percent of all species listed as threatened or endangered in the United States by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service depend on wetlands for their survival. Experts report that less than one-half of the wetlands in the contiguous 48 United States remain. Over 30-percent of the wetlands in Utah were lost to drainage from the 1780s to 1980s.
Besides erosion and groundwater distribution, the wetlands created at BMGR provided habitat to a diversity of animals and plants, greatly improving the beauty of the land, increasing visitor opportunities to view wildlife. Features were restored in and around the wetlands to support a diversity of amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals, and reptiles once present in the valley.
Features were added to the wetlands and streams to provide habitat suitable for use by the following rare species: Bald Eagles, Bluehead sucker, Boreal Toad, Columbia Spotted Frog, Colorado River Cutthroat Trout, Lowland Leopard Frog
The project implemented:
1) Groundwater dams
2) Ditch filling
3) Vertical grade control
5) Fill Removal
6) Wetland Depressions
7) Sheet Flow
8) Soil Loosening
9) Large woody Debris
10) Planting and Seeding.
This was completed by the use of three very skilled excavator operators, Craig Sponholtz, Omar Ore-Giron and Lincoln Perino. Their diligence and their insight led to a series of 9 wetland ponds. As they were digging out the new ponds they began to fill with the spring water. Confirming the groundwater that was just hidden under the surface.
In addition to the work that was done by the crew, Tom Biebighauser also held a workshop on May 8-11, 2018. The hands-on restoration workshop was designed for individuals who would like to learn how to use practical, low cost techniques for restoring wetlands and streams. Learning how to design and restore wetlands that provide habitat for waterfowl, amphibians, and a diversity of animal and plant species. Attendees will discover how to select locations for building wetlands, test soil texture, groundwater elevations, choose appropriate construction techniques, work with heavy equipment operators, control erosion, and establish native plants.
The project restored key features of natural wetlands, including flow from springs, the elevation of groundwater, the presence of shallow water depressions, hydric soils, non-compacted soils, tufts, mounds, ridges, and native plants that were present before drainage took place.
During and after the wetlands were created, thanks to the help of Clint Wirick, a biologist with US Fish and Wildlife, we planted over 5,000 native plants and trees and seeded over 2,000 pounds of native grasses and flowers. Many others assisted Clint and his efforts of creating a bio-diverse habitat. Within days the area began to grow back. After a month’s time, the area had exploded with grasses, flowers, and plants. Birds began to habitat in the area and bees were buzzing.
May 2018 – July 2018
From the creation of the groundwater tables, plant roots were able to receive water, generating a new way to support land: watering underground, not above. In fact, the only water the area received other than the water table has been from rainfall.
We hope when you take a look around, know that these and many of our other land and water based projects are not possible without the insight from many that are committed to helping the eco-systems and therefore the planet. Thanks to all that participated in giving back to the Earth!