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CVI improves stream quality on Mill Creek

CVI recently completed a two year project on Mill Creek in Berkley County, WV.  A tributary to Opequon Creek in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Mill Creek had high levels of sediment (loose sand, clay, silt, and other soil particles) and fecal coliforms.  Excess stream sediment can seriously degrade stream quality by increasing cloudiness that prevents animals from seeing food, preventing natural vegetation from growing in the water, increasing water temperature, smothering the gravel streambed habitat which is essential for aquatic insect and fish egg survival, clogging the gills of aquatic organisms, and reducing the water depth. 

We restored over 800 feet of Mill Creek streambanks by cutting back high banks to angles that would reduce erosion, removing invasive plant species, and replanting the riparian area with a variety of beneficial native trees and shrubs.  We also used bio-engineering methods including live fascines, live stakes, and brush mattresses, all of which will sprout roots and shoots which help stabilize the soil.  Live fascines are long bundles of woody branches of native species like willows that are planted horizontally along the stream in trenches.  The live fascines are partially buried, and then stakes are used to hold them in place while the fascines sprout roots and shoots.  Live stakes are branches approximately 3/8 inch in diameter and 18-24 inches long that are inserted in the ground to sprout.  Brush mattresses are a layer of interlaced living branches that are placed vertically on the stream bank and are often used with live fascines.  These restoration strategies will greatly reduce the amount of sediment that erodes off the banks and into the stream while providing improved habitat for wildlife. 

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