American River Parkway Cordova Creek Naturalization
cbec provided restoration/rehabilitation design services for Cordova Creek.
Our approach to habitat restoration design and planning included three co-equal goals of the project: habitat quality, aesthetics, and functionality. Multiple stakeholders are involved with this project, including Regional Parks, County DWR, The Water Forum, SAFCA, Rancho Cordova, Soil Born Farms, and the CNPS.
Ecological Design Approach: The primary goal was to create a high quality habitat consistent with what the physical and biological conditions of the site can support. Our habitat design approach focused on both the understory and the overstory to create habitats that establish successfully and quickly with minimal ongoing maintenance needs. Our design included planting the entire site – not just upland grassland areas – with native herbaceous plants and grasses to establish as much native plant cover as possible and thereby suppress weed competition with native trees and shrubs.
Geomorphic Design Approach: Our driving philosophy in designing the restoration approach was to restore natural river process to the maximum extent practicable given constraints imposed by the degree of creek modification, land ownership, local economy, and public amenities and facilities. Since physical form and process provide the template on which riverine ecology functions, restoring these generic controls at appropriately meaningful scales would bring about a sustainable ecological benefit to native species.
Other local-scale actions considered included reconnecting the channel to the floodplain by removing/lowering high floodplain terrace elevations, removal of ‘hard engineering’ structures (the gunite channel lining), allowing the channel ‘room to roam’ and to promote connectivity to the floodplain. The cbec team is focused on providing an ecologically sustainable solution for the creek restoration that will minimize maintenance requirements over the long term. Setting back critical infrastructure from the creek, creating geomorphically stable channel designs, and locating stream access crossings and stable channel locations were key issues.