Bacon Ridge Branch is a stream within Bacon Ridge Natural Area that is experiencing significant erosion and headcutting despite being surrounded by only 4% impervious cover in its drainage area. This is partially due to naturally erosive soils, but primarily a result of continued runoff from state highways and a history of deforestation, soil loss, and poor livestock management practices in past eras (hence the name “Bacon Ridge” – pigs roamed freely after the watershed was deforested). US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biologists have identified at least 180 active headcuts (erosion areas) within the property. Action is needed to retain the high quality wetlands and forests in this area, before they are impacted by stream channel erosion and impacts to the entire forest’s hydrology.
Main Stem Stream Restoration. In early 2015, USFWS notified SRF that significant erosion was present in the main stem of Bacon Ridge Branch (an intermittent stream channel reach). The site represents roughly 4,300 linear feet of actively eroding perennial channel in a forested setting. Vertical downcutting in the stream bed is causing the active drainage of high quality forested wetlands, which will eventually convert to uplands or marginal wetlands if no action is taken. The Federation received grants from Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Chesapeake Bay Trust to restore this stretch of stream. While we could have restored around 700 feet of stream with a traditional rock-based RSC approach, BioHabitats instead used beaver-dam like structures made from wood found onsite to stretch our funds to restore 4,300 linear feet of stream.
Headcut Project 1: USFWS designed, permitted, and constructed a series of log weirs in a rapidly eroding forested headcut in September, 2014. SRF assisted by providing live plants and volunteers to help the restoration area become established and stable.
Groundwater Recharge Wetlands: In 2015, SRF and USFWS decided to partner to explore an experimental concept devised by USFWS: to collect stormwater in small wetlands and then (through pipes or a gravel layer) allow the filtered wetland overflow to travel vertically back into a highly porous soil layer, recharging the groundwater table instead of contributing runoff volumes to nearby headcuts. As of early 2016, the project is approximately 50% funded and should be constructed by late 2016.