First Mine Branch Stream Restoration
The First Mine Branch Stream Restoration project was located on the property of a local gun club in northeastern Baltimore County and encompassed approximately 2,160 linear feet of stream restoration and 1 acre of wetland creation. Project funding was provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources through the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. Funding for this project was secured in two phases, design and construction.
This portion of First Mine Branch, a use III stream, had become highly incised, with sections of stream banks reaching six feet in height, eliminating any possibility of the stream connecting with the surrounding floodplain and transporting large amounts of sediment downstream. Potential causes of the degradation to the channel originates from stream manipulation, the effects of historic mill dams within the stream system, and a lack of deeply rooted riparian vegetation to stabilize the stream banks. Our focus was to correct the incised channels, increase the stream sinuosity, minimize the amount of sediment being transported downstream, and provide the wildlife with improved habitat.
In designing and constructing this project, the challenge was to use only materials found on site for the restoration work. Ecotone’s goal was to eliminate material import and hauling costs, as well as increase the project’s sustainability by utilizing removed trees and streambed rock materials. For example, the riffle material was salvaged from the old stream channel, sifted onsite, and used to build the new channel. Similarly, we didn’t use coir matting to stabilize the stream banks; instead we used sod that we prepped and planted in an adjacent field before the start of the project.
The project was completed in the summer of 2017 and has experienced several storm events without failure. As such, it is our expectation that in future years this section of First Mine Branch will remain stable, provide enhanced waterfowl and aquatic habitat, and become enticing for beavers to come in and create more wetlands.
First Mine Branch exhibited highly erodible stream banks due to a lack of adequate riparian buffer, resulting in large amounts of sediment transportation.
During construction Ecotone reused woody material to create in stream structures to stabilize the channel.
First Mine Branch has been reconnected to its floodplain with increased stream sinuosity and wildlife habitat potential.