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Abstract: Session E  4:50 pm (Back to Session E)
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Searching for Ecological Lift: The Riparian Corridor

Meghan Fellows
Stormwater Planning Division
Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
Fairfax, VA

Co-Authors: Meghan Fellows, Chris Ruck, Jonathan Witt, Suzanne Foster and Charles Smith

Restoration of the riparian system surrounding an urban stream restoration project is an understudied, and maybe undervalued, opportunity to achieve ecosystem lift. Challenges to improving the riparian corridor can arise from conflicting land use, natural threats (deer, invasive plants), lack of suitable metrics, and unclear outcomes. However, ecological lift of the riparian corridor can lead to improved water quality, fish and benthic habitat, terrestrial wildlife habitat, biodiversity and primary productivity. In Fairfax County, Virginia, we have clear guidance on shrub and tree replanting, with a long-term metric (10-year tree canopy goal); however, most jurisdictions do not regulate or mandate riparian corridor restoration, which could be a lost opportunity. Something as simple as altering the species palette to avoid monocultures, may have ramifications through the ecosystem contributing to both floodplain and stream ecological lift. I will present our efforts to evaluate the riparian corridor throughout Fairfax County’s stream restoration projects and discuss complementary field experiments in an effort to drive lift.