The Red Creek Consolidated Mitigation Bank and the Challenges of Stream Restoration in Gulf Coastal Plain Soils and Weather

Author(s): Maurer, B.

Since the Mobile and Vicksburg districts of the Corps began regulating impacts to streams, the Mississippi Department of Transportation has been proactive in acquiring advance credits for future impacts in several watersheds. One such project is the Red Creek Consolidated Mitigation Bank, located in coastal Jackson County and established in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Approved in 2011, this wetland and stream bank is providing credits on wet pine flats, bayhead and bottomland hardwood forest, and 3,345 linear feet of stream restoration primarily on two reaches of a tributary to Red Creek. The site is part of an ecologically-significant conservation area in the Pascagoula River watershed. The two restoration reaches have distinctive features; a Priority 2 Restoration was completed on steep and highly entrenched section of the upper stream to arrest severe headcutting. In the second reach, Priority 1 stream relocation was completed in a low-gradient bottomland forest to prevent active downcutting. Completed in the spring of 2012, the stream restoration work was subject to several substantial rain storms (including Hurricane Isaac, which dropped 15-20 inches on the site) before soils had settled and vegetation was fully established. In addition, unforeseen seepage areas developed on some of the steeper slopes causing slumping in the toe areas. Significant damage from storms in these seepage areas and later universally throughout much of the project forced a re-evaluation of the design before repairs were completed. This presentation will discuss and contrast the two restoration reaches, including the challenges of choosing Best Management Practices (BMPs)for stream restoration, and establishing vegetation in erodible, relatively low-nutrient soils and unfavorable weather conditions (hot and dry with periodic intense rainfall). Finally, we will evaluate the damage and repairs to restoration reaches, and how the untimely storms quickly taught us what worked best and what needed improvement.

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