Stream Restoration, Part 2: Contouring

Photos by Mitch Lettow

Aerial photo of restoration work at Tyden Creek at Hidden Pond Preserve. Photo by Brian Majka, GEI Consults.
The Existing Stream | Mitch Lettow
The Existing Stream

Long ago, Hidden Pond Preserve’s Tyden Creek had been ‘ditched’ (made straighter and more narrow) for agricultural purposes. Over time, the stream had dug itself a deeper bed. Without a gravel bottom to create riffles and runs, or deeper pools to slow the water down, the creek no longer offered a good variety of habitat for the small fish that had once lived there.

Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) wanted to correct the situation by restoring the stream to a condition that was more like it was before the ditching. So, after assessing the current population of fish living there (see “One Fish, Two Fish”, Story One in this series), earth movers were brought in to ‘contour’ the stream bed.

The Dreaded Backhoe | Mitch Lettow
Bank restoration at Tyden Creek, Hidden Pond Preserve, Barry County. | Mitch Lettow
Bank restoration at Tyden Creek, Hidden Pond Preserve, Barry County. | Mitch Lettow
Bank restoration at Tyden Creek, Hidden Pond Preserve, Barry County. | Mitch Lettow
Bank restoration at Tyden Creek, Hidden Pond Preserve, Barry County. | Mitch Lettow
Back hoes are usually associated with environmental destruction, but not in this case!

The folks at Generation III Excavating are experienced in habitat restoration work and know how to move their huge machines with finesse. The back hoe’s job was too tear away the creek’s unnaturally high banks, so that it can rise and overflow during storms without destroying its own aquatic habitats.

It takes very little time for the back hoe to tear out the bank vegetation and smooth the dirt into a more gradual contour.
Bank restoration at Tyden Creek, Hidden Pond Preserve, Barry County. | Mitch Lettow