How a severely degraded city stream along Charlottesville's Rivanna Trail was saved.
Work began May 15, 2012, to restore nearly 9,000 linear feet of Meadow Creek between Hydraulic Road and Greenbrier Park in Charlottesville, preserving 12 acres of wetlands, over 1.5 miles of the Rivanna Trail, and a total of 72 acres of land.
Passport to Nature: Take a "trial run" along newly restored sections of Meadow Creek and the Rivanna Trail.
Realigning this section of the creek will help stabilize the stream and prevent soil erosion, while improving habitat, recreational opportunities and water quality. Meadow Creek is a tributary of the Rivanna River and part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Meadow Creek restoration was completed in March 2013. View a slideshow of this restoration success.
The project used an approach called “natural channel design” to establish a stable meandering pattern, reduce streambank erosion and sedimentation, reconnect the stream to its floodplain, and protect and enhance streamside forest. The following restoration activities were completed:
- The old unstable channel was modified to create appropriate and stable meanders and reduce the height of stream banks.
- Rock and log structures were installed in the stream channel to provide bank stability and prevent scour.
- Riffles and pools were created to provide healthy habitat.
- The floodplain, a key component of the stream system, was enhanced. Depressional features were created along the stream to help naturally dissipate flow energy and provide wetland habitats typical of natural floodplains, enhancing 12 acres of existing wetlands along Meadow Creek in the project area.
- Over 16,000 trees and shrubs, as well as herbaceous vegetation, were planted to restore native forest habitat and enhance stream stability. The stream corridor was further enhanced by removal and treatment of invasive vegetation, which threatens the health and diversity of the streamside forest.
In addition to restoration activities, more than 70 acres of land were protected via conservation easements donated by the City of Charlottesville and a private landowner to ensure that the land along the restored stream will never be developed.