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Habitat Restoration

Woods Hole Group has unparalleled expertise and experience in restoring wetlands habitat. A habitat is a complex system that is the result of the coexistence of hydrology, morphology, plants, and animals. Woods Hole Group knows that it is necessary to understand the entire system that includes hydrology, plants, and animals that live within the habitat in order to restore it, and we therefore apply the concepts of Ecological Engineering and Adaptive Management to these complex projects. By incorporating self-design into the restoration, we allow nature to complete the final design resulting in a better outcome and reduced project costs.

When restoring a degraded habitat it is often necessary to make a value judgment that assesses the value of the degraded habitat against the potential value of the restored habitat. Woods Hole Group has completed many complex habitat restoration projects and can make this evaluation by bringing a multi-disciplined team to the project, including a Professional Wetland Scientist, biologists, and engineers. The team is able to assess the existing habitat and then use state-of-the-art tools to determine the best methods to use for the restoration project. Habitat restoration specialties include:

  • Salt Marsh
  • Barrier Beaches & Dunes
  • Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
  • Shellfish & Fisheries
  • Monitoring & Adaptive Management

Snapshot:

Herring River Estuary
Restoration Project


The restoration of the Herring River Estuary System, the largest estuary on outer Cape Cod, is geared towards developing a plan to restore 1,000 acres of wetlands. The overall goal is...[+]

Hydrodynamic
Analysis and Design


Woods Hole Group was contracted by Save the Sound to investigate the hydrodynamic characteristics of the Bride Brook estuary system in Rocky Neck State Park...[+]

Hyrdrological
Feasibility Study


The Stony Brook estuary is an historic herring run that also leads to a 32-acre salt marsh in Brewster, MA. The marsh has deteriorated over the years due to inadequate tidal...[+]

Herring River Estuary Restoration Project


The restoration of the Herring River Estuary System, the largest estuary on outer Cape Cod, is geared towards developing a plan to restore 1,000 acres of wetlands. The overall goal is to create a productive floodplain environment that will sustain itself with improved water quality and a strengthened ecosystem by restoring tidal flow to the estuary. The success of the project largely depends on a comprehensive restoration plan.

Woods Hole Group was contracted to develop a hydrodynamic and salinity model that is central to the restoration plan. This high-resolution (two-meter scale) complex model evaluates potential changes to surface water flow, velocity, and salinity levels within the estuary. The model is also applied to numerous alternative scenarios to assess potential restoration gains, upland flooding concerns, improved salinity distribution, sediment transport and deposition, etc.

Woods Hole Group's approach included evaluation and selection of the best model for the project, code development, model set-up, calibration, and verification, and simulation of a range of physical conditions (e.g., sea level rise, storm conditions). The complex numerical modeling simulates both the hydraulics of the system and the salinity distribution throughout the estuary. The results are used to assess restoration alternatives and design new engineering openings and water control structures. Following completion of the model, 3-D interactive animations and visualization tools were developed within Google earth showing the response of the system to various alternatives.

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Hydrodynamic Analysis and Design


Woods Hole Group was contracted by Save the Sound to investigate the hydrodynamic characteristics of the Bride Brook estuary system in Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme, CT, and to evaluate potential alternatives to restore more natural conditions to a system that has been structured since the early 20th century. Historically, Bride Brook was one of the largest anadromous fish runs in the state of Connecticut. Since the construction of the twin elliptical culverts at the mouth of the estuary in 1934, however, alewife numbers declined. This decrease was attributed to the reduced tidal flow and water column light caused by the 200-foot long structure, which obscures the fish passage upstream. Therefore, the primary objective of this project was to determine an engineered alternative to the existing structure that could effectively restore the tidal regime and fish passage of the Bride Brook estuary.

The project required detailed coastal processes data collection, H&H modeling, engineering design, emergency engineering services during a failure of the existing structure due to a coastal storm, and construction oversight.

The existing twin 36" pipe culverts (buried beneath the dune system) and associated coastal structures were failing and a new design was required to maintain tidal exchange, fish passage, and to stabilize the beach. Woods Hole Group collected data, developed a detailed hydrodynamic and hydraulic model of the system, developed alternatives, and completed a unique engineering design that consisted of both open channel flow to improve fish passage and box culvert to maintain the coastal protection afforded by the coastal dune. The design was constructed by the CTDEEP in 2010 and has successfully restored fish passage to the Bride Brook system. Alewife fish counts through the system doubled after construction (in both 2010 and 2011), with 2011 being the largest on record. Since construction, the structure has held up to recent extreme storms, including hurricane Sandy. This project was also one of 50 coastal restoration projects chosen by NOAA for funding by ARRA.

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Hyrdrological Feasibility Study


The Stony Brook estuary is an historic herring run that also leads to a 32-acre salt marsh in Brewster, MA. The marsh has deteriorated over the years due to inadequate tidal circulation, impedance by the Route 6A causeway and the defunct and undersized culverts.

Initially the project consisted of a field data collection program, development and calibration of a two-dimensional numerical circulation model using the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code (EFDC), and the application of the calibrated model to conduct an alternatives analysis aimed at restoring tidal flow to the Stony Brook estuarine system.

The hydrodynamics and salinity model simulated existing conditions and alternatives involving the replacement of two culvert structures which convey tidal flow under the Route 6A roadway to the upstream/landward portion of the marsh.

The potential benefit and impacts of the each proposed restoration alternative were evaluated including upland flooding, sediment transport/scour of the channel bed or adjacent roadway, effects on drainage/infrastructure, and any effects on migratory anadromous fish. The alternatives were simulated under typical tidal, low-flow, and storm conditions to fully assess their performance and to make a recommendation on how to best achieve restoration with minimal impacts. The recommended alternative was chosen based on its likelihood to restore approximately 15 acres of wetland habitat, and maintain the herring run.

The Stony Brook Restoration Project was one of 50 projects selected nationwide for funding from NOAA's Habitat Restoration Center and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In late 2010, using the guidance and conceptual design of alternatives provided by Woods Hole Group, the project was designed and constructed successfully, and subsequently won a national award, the Coastal America Partnership Award, presented by President Obama's Administration for its teamwork and effectiveness at restoring ecological function while remaining protective of surrounding infrastructure.

Woods Hole Group was subsequently contracted to perform a post-construction hydrologic assessment of the estuary. The assessment, which included a second data collection program and calibrated numerical model evaluation reported an improved (restored) tidal regime throughout the estuarine system and was on target with the expectations presented by the pre-construction model simulations.

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