Hendersonville Times-News Apr. 10, 2006

Program teaches contractors stream restoration

By Diane Silver

Stream restoration involves physically reshaping a stream channel and/or its
banks to improve the overall ecology of the stream.

This may include creating meanders to return a stream that was once
straightened to a more natural sinuous shape. It may include grading back
steep banks to give the stream access to its floodplain, so that high storm
volumes can spread out laterally to reduce the cutting energy of the water.

It may also include creating a series of riffles and pools to create diverse
micro-habitats for aquatic organisms or installing structures in the stream
using natural materials, such as boulders and root wads, to create vanes
that direct the water away from the banks and toward the center of the
channel. This protects streambanks from the erosional force of the water.

And it includes stabilizing streambanks with high quality vegetation to hold
soil in place and filter run-off.

The N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program is the state agency that carries out
major stream restoration projects for the state. The program has a
multi-million dollar budget and a mandate to do a sizable chunk of
restoration work in the French Broad basin in the coming years.

All these projects are voluntary on the part of the landowner. There is no
obligation, law or regulation for landowners to participate in projects.

Once a project is identified and negotiations with the willing landowner are
completed, construction contractors are hired to carry out the actual
on-the-ground work, under the supervision of NCEEP engineers. These
contractors need to have specific skills for doing in-stream work.

NCEEP and the N.C. State University Stream Restoration Institute are
providing training to construction contractors to build a pool of eligible
firms to bid on these future projects. The training will include important
skills and techniques contractors will need to carry out the work, and will
also include a session on how to bid for the contracts.

This is a potentially valuable niche for contractors, and presents a
tremendous opportunity for the local economy to benefit from the state money
budgeted to be spent on these projects.

The workshop is designed to cover background, construction techniques and
bidding methods on stream restoration projects. The workshop will introduce
participants to the unique construction techniques used in stream
restoration.

A demonstration project will be created that demonstrates the installation
of stream restoration structures. Participants will be able to witness
structures being installed and ask questions related to equipment, materials
and installation methods. The workshop will also include a tour of several
completed restoration projects.

A representative from the NCEEP will be presenting on methods of bidding
through the N.C. State Construction Office, cost estimating and acceptance
and warranty of work. NCEEP representatives will also be presenting on
sediment and erosion techniques and permitting.

The workshop is designed for contractors and construction inspectors who are
presently involved with or desire to conduct stream restoration
construction. In the near future, only contractors who have participated in
the training will be eligible to bid on NCEEP projects. It would be a shame
if all these contracts went to firms in Charlotte, Greenville, Raleigh,
etc., simply because there are no local contractors who are qualified.

This is an important window of opportunity to take advantage of a valuable
business opportunity in the local community. Let's keep that money here.

The training will be held May 16-18 at the Transylvania Center of Blue Ridge
Community College in Brevard. Online registration and more information is
available at www.bae.ncsu.edu/workshops/constructiontraining/index.html, by
calling (919) 513-1774 or via e-mail at gusteelm@unity.ncsu.edu.

Diane Silver is the Mud Creek Watershed coordinator with the N.C.
Cooperative Extension Service in Henderson County.