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Abstract: Session G  4:10 pm (Back to Session G)
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Managed Succession as a Restoration Strategy

Mike Trumbauer
Biohabitats, Inc.
Baltimore, MD

As designers we are challenged with how to intervene in dynamic natural systems to make them “stable” or impose a desirable anthropogenic form that fits within the site’s context and is consistent with the project goals, objectives and constraints. In reality, our decision to intervene is based on observations representing a single point in time during the system’s history of disturbance and recovery. All too often, we use engineering and diesel fuel to make these natural systems static, when we know there is a set of conditions under which the project will not be static. What if we, as a practice, abandon this concept of designing to operating thresholds (e.g., 10-yr storm) and engineering static end points defined by a fixed cross-section and profile to make our restored streams more resilient to a paradigm of climate change. Instead of defining the end point as stream and wetland complex, a stage zero channel, a Rosgen “C” channel, etc., we define a starting point and a trajectory of succession in which the channel and the vegetative communities should develop and actively manage for an outcome over time. While this approach necessitates more than a single capital outlay, the intent is to reduce the upfront cost by adapting and managing for the uncertainty instead of fighting it. This presentation will review observations from Bonnie Branch (Ellicott City) constructed in 2016, Davis Branch (Woodstock) constructed in 2017, and Lower Lower Stony Run (Baltimore City) constructed in 2018, that formed the basis for this concept.