Not far from the Wetland Enhancement we recently completed, the City of Buckley was having a new pump station built in a wooded area, with two new wells that would feed the City’s water supply. Planned construction included an asphalt pad and driveway and a concrete pump house that would encase two new 300-foot deep water wells.
When impermeable surfaces (such as asphalt and concrete) are added to a sensitive ecological area, construction impacts must be mitigated. We were hired to establish an ecologically sound buffer between the building project and adjacent wetlands, to compensate for diverted water runoff and mitigate impact from the new construction.
Between the pump station and the construction clearing limits, our objective was to re-establish a native growth area. Beyond the clearing limits and into the wetlands, our plan was to remove invasive species and add native plantings which would mimic the variety of naturally existing plants and vegetation, build the ecosystem and prevent erosion.
< Inside clearing limits; this area was cleared by the general contractor in preparation for building the pump house.
> After removing invasive species, we added a variety of native trees, plants and shrubs to get a head start on re-establishing the forest floor.
< In addition to a few live trees left standing, snags were installed by the general contractor to create “lodges” for native bird habitat and nesting.
> Throughout the cleared area, we added 65 yards of animal-friendly wood chips to discourage proliferation of weeds and invasive species and prevent erosion from surface runoff. The area pictured buts up to the edge of the Buckley Trail (an old railroad track converted to a pedestrian trail), which runs along the edge of the wetland/construction property.
< Orange sheeting marks the demarcation line between the construction clearing limit and the wetlands.
> Beyond the clearing limit and into the wetlands, we created several woody debris piles, suitable “pre-fab” habitats for rodents, birds, insects and other forest wildlife.
< To encourage animal nesting, we hand-dug five hockey-stick shaped burrows under existing tree root systems. These burrowing animal habitats were added on the Northwest side of trees, where they would be subject to less rain and flooding during the wetter seasons.
> Since no power equipment is allowed in wetland areas, we hand-removed invasive species to make space for native growth. We added native plants, trees and shrubs to bolster the root systems of the forest floor, lessen impact of construction and rain water runoff, and hinder future erosion.
To conclude this project, we cleared the forest understory up to 12 feet. This gentle thinning of the woods allows in more light and increased air flow, improving the viability of new plantings. Additionally, the open understory will allow birds of prey to fly and hunt in the wetlands, promoting continued balance in this ecosystem’s food chain.
< With the buffer in place, the City of Buckley can rest assured that this sensitive wetland area is protected from construction impact, and the native ecosystem will continue to fluorish for years to come.
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