work underway on a water-discharge structure we designed for poor soil conditions
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Seney National Wildlife Refuge stream restoration

Seney National Wildlife Refuge stream restoration
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

restoring stream flow and hydrology in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The area that is now the Seney National Wildlife Refuge was once the site of ditch and dike projects that attempted to drain the wetlands to create usable farmland. Almost a century of stream-flow diversions had affected groundwater and vegetation and resulted in surface erosion. After the property was turned over to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the goal was to re-create predevelopment conditions and to reconfigure established wildlife-management-pool discharges to restore flow through abandoned creek channels.

Barr’s team worked closely with USFWS engineering, biology, and management staff, along with refuge staff, to develop their concept and help determine how the system would operate when finished. We modeled several scenarios to help them visualize the completed project conditions. We also conducted hydrologic and hydraulic studies and designed water-control structures to enable refuge staff to shift from the existing discharge path to a new flow scheme.

In the design phase, our team emphasized flexibility in operational features that would enable staff to adjust operations as needed after construction. Our design included a gated culvert outlet, gated spillway, and rock and geotextile seeps to provide seasonal flows to a downstream marsh. We also designed tree vanes to protect a stream bed from erosion and an emergency spillway and vehicle-access bridge.

USFWS staff noted that the work was a vital first step in restoring nearly 10,000 acres of drained wetlands and 20 miles of stream habitat.