Following many years of planning and coordination, The Nature Conservancy and the City of Charlottesville have completed the restoration of nearly two miles of Meadow Creek stretching from Hydraulic Road through Greenbrier Park. This project improves valuable wildlife habitat, creek stability, and recreation opportunities, and will help achieve regional water quality goals by dramatically reducing stream bank erosion. Invasive vegetation, which chokes native forests, was also removed, and thousands of native plants were planted to further stabilize repaired banks along the more natural stream channel.
The project not only restored the degraded stream, but also added 40 acres of new city parkland. The effort will preserve the Rivanna Trail corridor paralleling this section of Meadow Creek as well.
“Restoring one of the city's major waterways and expanding parkland not only improves the stream and water quality, but also protects the city’s natural heritage for future generations to enjoy,” said Diane Frisbee, Stream Project Manager with The Nature Conservancy.
Meadow Creek is part of the Rivanna River watershed, which is part of the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Rivanna watershed is one of the best examples of high quality Piedmont river systems remaining in Virginia. However, increased sedimentation, due in large part to historic land conversion and associated uncontrolled storm water runoff, stream bank erosion, and the lack of forested buffers in riparian areas, poses a serious threat to the health of the watershed.
Restoration work began in spring 2012 and involved reducing the steep height of the stream banks, realigning the stream channel, adding meanders and in-stream habitat structures, and planting trees to enhance the buffer along the stream. A similar, but much smaller stream restoration project was completed by the City of Charlottesville in 2000 on Moores Creek in Azalea Park. To permanently protect Meadow Creek and its riparian wetlands and buffer, conservation easements are in place over the 70-acre project area.
The conservation easements also protect over a mile of the Rivanna Trail located along Meadow Creek. In June, City Council will consider the Draft Master Plan for the Meadow Creek Stream Valley.
“The completion of this important restoration project and the Master Plan for these lands is the culmination of years of effort on the part of many in the community, and is directly aligned with the Parks and Recreation Department’s mission to be the stewards of public lands, ” said Brian Daly, Director of Parks and Recreation in the City.
Ongoing monitoring of the stream channel and buffer will ensure the ecological goals of the project are being met. In addition to its environmental and recreational benefits, the restored stream system also provides numerous opportunities for research, education, and volunteer engagement.
Funding for the $3.95-million restoration came from the Virginia Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. Administered by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Conservancy, the Trust Fund develops and implements significant wetland and stream protection and restoration projects throughout Virginia.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy
City of Charlottesville