Grant Awarded for Fish River Watershed Stream Restorations by NFWF Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund

Head Cut and Shoreline Erosion at Marlow Branch

The Mobile Bay National Estuary receives award from NFWF Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund to restore conditions in and around Lower Fish River Watershed streams

Gully at Marlow Branch

On March 19, 2020, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced new Alabama projects to be funded by the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) and designed to remedy harm and reduce risk of future harm to natural resources affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) will receive more than $6.54 million to address sediment and nutrient issues in the Lower Fish River Watershed, one of a complex of four coastal watersheds draining into Weeks Bay. Project activities will include planning, engineering and design, and permitting efforts to identify and develop solutions for six stormwater-impacted tributaries. The award will also fund engineering and design, permitting, and construction of a 1,650-linear-foot priority stream restoration project in the Marlow Community. This tributary runs south of and parallel to Baldwin County Road 32, passes under CR 9 near its intersection with CR 32, and drains into Fish River just downstream of the Fish River Bridge on CR 32. These issues were identified and restoration measures recommended in the Weeks Bay Watershed Management Plan, published in 2017 and funded through the NFWF GEBF.

Multiple tributaries within the Lower Fish River Watershed have been negatively impacted by severe erosion and nutrient enrichment in headwater areas, delivering silt and negatively impacting once-productive downstream seagrass beds and oyster reef habitats essential to coastal fishery health. Restoring and protecting priority streams and streambank corridors is vital to improving the overall water quality in this Watershed and its receiving waters in Weeks Bay. The overall project strategy will employ similar hybrid stream restoration techniques as those used to restore over two miles of degraded streams and 44 acres of floodplain and wetlands in the successful GEBF-funded D’Olive Watershed restoration project.

Restoration of D'Olive Creek Tributary between I-10 and U.S. 98 to stabilize stream banks and restore ecological function. 

Severe Stream Bank Erosion   Restoration of D'Olive Tributary D4-D6   Restored D'Olive Creek Tributary D4-D6

D'Olive Watershed Tributary D4-D6 pre-restoration, flowing from under I-10 near Mile Marker 38 south to U.S. Highway 90, reflecting severe stream bank erosion and mass slumping caused by excessive volumes and velocities of stormwater runoff. 

  This large-scale restoration involved filling the deeply incised channel and creating a new, sinuous, rock-lined channel connected to a floodplain designed to absorb and slow waters during heavy rain events. Log-rollers (using felled trees) and mid-channel rock vanes were installed to reduce energy and direct flow. Erosion control fabric and temporary grasses were used to stabilize the floodplain in the short term.   Native vegetation, including young trees, add ecological value daily to this restored stream reach, which formerly delivered tons of sediment annually downstream into Lake Forest Lake, and D'Olive and Mobile bays. Installed ponds retain stormwater and provide habitat complexity necessary for wildlife and aquatic organisms. Monitoring is in progress to determine sediment load reductions. 

 

Map of Impacted Streams in the Lower Fish River Watershed

The MBNEP is guided by a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan developed by over 200 Management Conference partners from federal, state, and local partners; businesses and industry; academia and citizen groups. It is based on local input and supports local priorities that protect water quality, sustain populations of key living resources, manage vital habitats, mitigate human impacts, and build citizen stewardship. The CCMP provides a road map for estuarine resource management in Alabama through a watershed approach that prescribes watershed management planning for areas draining to specific water bodies – independent of geopolitical boundaries. This approach ensures restoration and protection projects are based in science and fit into a well-studied and structured overall management program.

The mission of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is to provide the necessary tools and support community-based efforts to promote the wise stewardship of the quality and living resources of Alabama’s estuarine waters.

Lower Fish River Watershed
Pink indicates degraded streams

Posted on 03/27/20 at 09:52 AM Permalink