Stream before restoration
Damaged stream prior to restoration. (Photo: Courtesy of Biohabitats)

During colonial times, domestic hogs foraged for food along a wooded stream that feeds the Chesapeake Bay. It’s an area now known as Bacon Ridge.

Berg: “Hogs are notoriously rough on forested systems. They just demolished the forest.”

Joe Berg is with Biohabitats, a company that does ecological restoration. He says the hogs caused severe erosion at Bacon Ridge. It was made worse by industrial logging.

One solution to erosion is to stabilize the stream channel using rock. But that’s expensive. And it creates a lot of carbon pollution because it requires mining and trucking massive amounts of rock.

Berg: “Think about all the diesel, and you know those trucks aren’t getting 40 miles to the gallon.”

So Biohabitats used a different approach. With trees harvested right at Bacon Ridge, the team created structures – kind of like log-jams – to help stabilize the stream bank.

It mimics how streams functioned centuries ago.

Berg: “A tree would fall, the tree would back up the stream, the stream would saturate the floodplain.”

Berg says the strategy worked at Bacon Ridge.

Berg: “Now we have a really wet floodplain forest, the way it was prior to colonial Americans releasing hogs and initiating the stream degradation process.”

Stream after the restoration
Restored stream at Bacon Ridge. (Photo: Courtesy of Meadville Land Service)

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.