The previous section discussed common natural and human-caused disturbances within watersheds and to stream channels. This segment presents an overview of commonly implemented stream channel and stream bank restoration techniques as well as watershed-scale conservation and protection measures. Planning and undertaking a restoration project is no small feat. We are making the assumption that as a Master Watershed Steward, you may support or participate in existing stream conservation or restoration efforts rather than undertaking projects of your own. Therefore, this page is an overview of stream conservation and restoration, providing background information on commonly used techniques. If you desire further information on these subjects, please see "For Further Reading" at the end of this section.
Conservation and Protection
Conservation and protection measures minimize degradation of the watershed, stream channel, and ecosystem components. Techniques for limiting erosion and degradation within a watershed are described in the Soil Conservation, Protection, and Restorationpage of this website. Stream channels can be protected against degradation by minimizing alterations that diminish, destroy, modify, relocate, or change the natural existing shape or direction of water flow. Maintaining vegetation buffer strips along stream corridors slows overland flow into stream channels and lessens its erosive power.
The U.S. Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides additional information on buffer strips.
In urbanized areas, detention and retention ponds, basins constructed to increase infiltration of overland flow, can be installed. Detention ponds are depressions created to hold runoff from impervious areas, such as parking lots, until the water infiltrates or is diverted elsewhere. Detention ponds typically hold water only following precipitation events. Retention ponds are also used to control runoff; retention ponds differ from detention ponds in that they hold water all of the time.
Finally, minimizing exposed soil and refraining from dumping yard debris, concrete, or rocks on stream banks or in streams are also effective stream channel protection measures.
Left: Detention pond. Right: Retention pond.