Your Views: Wrong approach for stream restoration

Your Views: Wrong approach for stream restoration
(Photo Credit: Missy Schrott)

To the editor:

The biggest problem with the so-called natural channel design approach to stream “restoration” for us in the greater Washington D.C. region is that it is planned and implemented in completely the wrong places: small order, interior forested, upper headwater streams and wetlands.

Natural channel design, the Rosgen method, is mainly applicable to large order streams and rivers, especially the kinds one finds in the American west. Applying it to small order, upper headwater stream channels of the deeply dissected Fall Zone of our area is:

• a misuse of the methodology,

• a misunderstanding of eastern Fall Zone hydrology and stream geomorphology,

• a sure recipe for failure,

• a mismanagement of public funds by inappropriately targeting sediment-control projects in places with low levels of the very nutrients for which funding is based,

• and an unacceptable loss of irreplaceable native forest, wildlife and landscape memory.

The controversial stream construction projects currently planned throughout the region embody the worst elements of misguided land use projects at virtually every level, from land giveaway to poor planning to rubber-stamping by elected officials.

-Rod Simmons, environmental scientist; John Field, stream restoration specialist and fluvial geomorphologist; Tony Fleming, hydrogeologist; Barbara Southworth, environmental science and policy specialist; Greg Zell, natural resource specialist; Edd Barrows, Georgetown University biology professor; Andrew Macdonald, geologist and Environmental Council of Alexandria chair; Laura Anderko, Georgetown University Professor, health studies and climate change; Jim Long, physicist and past president of the Mattawoman Watershed Society; Ken Bawer, vice president, Watts Branch Watershed Alliance