The water flowing through WVU’s Reedsville Farm will soon be returned to a more natural sinuous pathway. Stream restoration is just part of a larger program, led by the University to turn the stream and its farm into a demonstration of best management practices.
"We’re using the Reedsville Farm to demonstrate how one can manage a farm and produce clean water from that farm," said Dr. Todd Petty, Associate Dean for Academic Administration for the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design. By definition, this is an interdisciplinary process, not something that can be done by any one academic discipline, so it’s a natural fit for the Institute of Water Security and Science.
The first step to recreating stream sinuosity is gathering data that will create a baseline description of the current condition of the stream. Those data will provide direction for additional research and restoration efforts.
In some locations, the stream is straight because farmers use a "ditch and tile" method to make it that way. They frequently put tiles in the bottom of a stream to make a higher-pressure straight rush of water that lowers the water table and increases surface area; however, the faster water cuts into the earth, causing increased erosion and creating higher banks. There’s also less surface area of water for aquatic animals to use, less vegetation surrounding the stream, and a lack of a naturally occurring wetland.
The Reedsville Restoration Project will focus on working with agricultural and other experts to restore floodplains, minimize erosion through cattle access points, and facilitate wetland regrowth. The project will help demonstrate successful farm management practices.
"The goal is to recreate sinuosity (of the stream) and reconnect the stream to the floodplain," Petty said. "This will decrease erosion and get the stream back to flooding in its natural floodplain."
-Story by Jillian Clemente-