Welcome to the interactive web schedule for the 2019 Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference! Please note, this event has passed. To return to the main Conference website, go to: www.midwestfw.org.

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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 

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S12: Reading the aquatic landscape and connecting restoration design [clear filter]
Tuesday, January 29

1:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) What Makes for a Good Restoration Project
AUTHORS: Devin Schenk, The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: There is a lot of interest and effort spent on stream and wetland restoration across the nation. Restoring these aquatic systems is widely recognized as a positive countermeasure to past landuse impacts and degradation; however, research has found that restoration failures are pervasive. It is therefore critical for practitioners, land managers, grantors, and decision-makers to be able to recognize the common challenges associated with stream and wetland restoration and what a successful project looks like. This talk will take a categorical stroll through the restoration landscape providing insight into ,what to look for in determining the goals of a restoration project, assessing a site’s restoration potential, evaluating its design, and measuring its success.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 1:20pm - 1:40pm EST

1:40pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) The Importance of Soil Health in Ecological Restoration
AUTHORS: Bill Schumacher, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

ABSTRACT: Frequently, stream and wetland restoration projects pay little attention to on-site historical disturbances to soils. However, an accumulating amount of research points to substrate disturbance as one of the primary causes of site failure. Investigations of several restoration projects have indicated that in many cases, when there is a failure in site hydrology and/or plant community development, a specific underlying soil disturbance, such as changes in physical soil properties or excessive nutrient buildup, can be identified. Diagnosing these potential disturbances prior to selection or construction is essential to ensuring that site development is not hampered by these underlying issues.This talk will focus on research conducted by the Ohio EPA Wetland Ecology Group on soils, in both reference and disturbed wetland and riparian habitats. Several studies have been conducted since 2011 that focus of soils as they relate to the overall ecological condition of a site. These include: 1) An intensification of the USEPA National Wetland Condition Assessment, in which a random set of 50 wetlands was assessed to compare soil factors with the overall ecological condition of the plant community; 2) A survey of reference condition riparian habitats to correlate high quality riverine flora with soil health; and 3) A paired soils study, in which identical mapped soils were analyzed in undisturbed forest habitats and adjacent heavily disturbed row cropping to illustrate variation in soil parameters between divergent levels of disturbance.Results of these studies will be discussed to illustrate how consideration of soil information may be used to assist in in the development of restoration projects.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST

2:00pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) Keys to Successfully Establishing a Native Plant Community on Wetland and Stream Restoration Projects
AUTHORS: Brian Gara, The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: Plants are outstanding indicators of environmental quality. Extremely small variations in physical site parameters, such as water depth and duration, soil health, and temperature can lead to significant differences in the plant community structure. Many plant species have very narrow ranges of tolerances to these factors which result in extreme habitat affinities. Others are generalists that can thrive under a wide range of habitat types and disturbances. Unfortunately, a majority of the more undesirable, non-native, “invasive” species, are highly adapted to sites that are heavily disturbed by human activities. In most cases, restoration projects involve sites that have been subjected historically to significant levels of anthropogenic disturbance. These projects are also exposed to a high level of mechanical disturbance during construction. Additionally, many riparian restoration projects have limited performance goals that only target the planting of tree species, disregarding the other critical strata (e.g. shrubs and herbs) generally present within native plant communities. This practice severely reduces the long-term habitat potential for these sites. Because of these limitations, establishing a robust, diverse, and sustainable native plant community on restoration projects can be challenging.Several research studies have been conducted by the author that focus on the ecological condition of the plant communities associated with riparian and wetland restoration projects. Results of these studies will be discussed to focus on key factors that can be implemented to ensure a functional, native plant community is successfully established.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 2:00pm - 2:20pm EST

2:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) Restoring Wetland Habitat for Amphibian Communities
AUTHORS: Mick Micacchion, The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: The wetlands that support amphibian breeding and habitat functions are being lost at a much higher rate than wetlands of other types. This is true for both urban and rural landscapes. These damages do not always directly impact the wetlands themselves but instead involve solely large-scale degradation of the habitats surrounding the wetlands. However, both direct and indirect impacts are debilitating to the wetlands’ amphibian communities. Additionally, far too often the lost amphibian community functions of wetlands are not being replaced through compensatory wetland mitigation or other wetland restoration and enhancement projects. Restoring wetland amphibian functions requires many considerations. By far, the most important factor is the location of the replacement wetland and ensuring there is the ability for it to interact with nearby surrounding habitat features that are supportive of wetland amphibian communities. Sites should be targeted toward areas where adjoining intact, high quality vernal pools are present and there is the ability to restore wetlands on surrounding hydric soils. Additionally, it is important to incorporate the attributes displayed by the area’s best remaining vernal pools in the restoration wetlands. These habitat components include seasonal hydroperiods, shallow slopes to the pools, supportive microtopographic features, and establishing connection to natural vernal pools, and their forested surrounding habitats, through reforestation. In the end, high quality complexes of forested landscapes that contain fully functional vernal pools, with exceptional amphibian communities, will result when the above considerations are the basis for wetland restoration and enhancement projects.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST

2:40pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) The Power of Partnering with State Agencies to Achieve Conservation
AUTHORS: Matthew Perlik, Ohio Department of Transportation

ABSTRACT: Over the last 10 years, Ohio DOT has spent over $40 million on landscape conservation and restortation projects. This money provides an enormous contribution to protected and restored lands throughout the 34th smallest state (by area) in the US with less than 5% public lands. ODOT has developed a program that works with non-profits, for profits, universities, federal agencies, and fellow state agencies to deliver aquatic and terrestrial conseration that is lower cost, exceeds ecological improvement requirements, and is delivered faster than traditional methods. This process has expanded preserved lands, lands for recreation, and the holdings of entities dedicated to conservation. Using recent case studies, this paper will focus on the challenges and successes of working with a state DOT to deliver successful conservation within a highly developed state landscape.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 2:40pm - 3:00pm EST

3:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) Working with the United States Army Corps of Engineers for Aquatic Resource Restoration and Enhancement
AUTHORS: Cory Wilson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District

ABSTRACT: Aquatic resource restoration and enhancement projects, though beneficial, are often subject to the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) regulatory authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. This portion of the symposium will provide a general overview of these Acts and the types of activities that do, and do not, require Department of the Army permits. In addition, a description of the typical Corps permitting/approval mechanisms for implementing these types of projects will be provided (e.g. Nationwide Permits and Mitigation Banking Instruments). Finally, a summary of the Ohio Stream and Wetland Valuation Metric and the Ohio Interagency Review Team guidelines for stream and wetland mitigation banking and in-lieu fee programs in the State of Ohio will be provided. Participants in this symposium will gain a general understanding of the requirements and tools necessary for implementing aquatic resource restoration and enhancement projects under the Corps regulatory authority.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST

3:40pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) Identify Aquatic Restoration Priorities Using GIS and the Watershed Approach
AUTHORS: August Froehlich, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio

ABSTRACT: Our current era of stream and wetland mitigation began with the publication in 2008 of “Compensatory Mitigation for Losses of Aquatic Resources,” aka the 2008 Mitigation Rule. By publishing this document, the USEPA and the USACE established a new paradigm for the entire process of mitigating impacts to the nation’s streams and wetlands. One of the main concepts originally proposed was the watershed approach. The watershed approach is comprised of 5 elements to drive the strategic selection of compensatory mitigation and ensure the likelihood of a mitigation plan being both successful and sustainable. Each of the 5 elements are well suited for spatial analysis. From evaluating the landscape context of a HUC-6 watershed to identifying the potential project parcels, GIS analysis allows efficient implementation of all 5 of the elements. This presentation will use the identification of a stream restoration site to provide examples of the watershed approach. Data sources, analysis methods, and supporting documents will all be discussed.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST

4:00pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) Reading the Riverine Landscape and Learning From Past Restoration Designs
AUTHORS: Dana Ohman, The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: There are many riverine factors that need to be scrutinized for stream restoration.  Some of these factors are fluvial processes, riverine channel characteristics, thermal regimes, longitudinal and lateral connectivity, water quality and quantity, aquatic ecology, and physical habitat characteristics.  All too often streams and rivers are restored based on a cookbook approach without addressing the causes of degradation or individual needs of the stream.  Unfortunately, this approach creates a stream condition that does not match the natural integrity of the stream thereby creating a restoration project that will end up failing.  Learning from past incompatible designs and stream restorations create a learning opportunity to develop more dynamic restoration designs that will keep that natural integrity of the stream intact.  This talk will focus on stream characteristics, identification of a reference reach to mimic stream restoration design components, and lessons learned from past stream restoration designs. 

Tuesday January 29, 2019 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST

4:20pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) Keys to Successful Dam Removal and River Restoration
AUTHORS: Amy Singler, The Nature Conservancy & American Rivers

ABSTRACT: Dam Removal is arguably the most effective tool we have for restoring river habitat and fish passage. The benefits of many dams may no longer outweigh the significant impacts to fisheries and habitat. Following dam removal we see rapid improvement in water quality, return of riverine species, restored habitat downstream and upstream of the former dam. Dam removal also eliminates maintenance requirements for owners and the potential danger of failure at unmaintained dams during floods. As the rate of dam removal has increased we are seeing positive results to fish and river habitat, and we are learning just what it takes to make projects successful.Dam removal design needs to focus on river processes and account for the dynamic nature of the rivers, while taking into account infrastructure, appropriate sediment management, and threatened and endangered species. Less can often be more when we approach dam removal engineering design. Increasingly, practitioners and regulators are finding the balance of acceptable short-term impacts and long term benefits. Using project examples this presentation will address: 1.) How to recognize and address key issues at dam removal projects in order to design projects that are self-sustaining and create lasting benefits for the suite of aquatic species in the river system; 2.) How to collaborate with regulatory agencies to address concerns of impacts from dam removal construction.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 4:20pm - 4:40pm EST

4:40pm EST

(SYMPOSIA-12) Restoring Streams, Wetlands, & Floodplains in an Agricultural Landscape
AUTHORS: Amy Brennan, Lake Erie Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy; Jessica D'Ambrosio, Western Lake Erie Basin Agriculture Director for The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: The Nature Conservancy will share lessons learned and partnerships necessary to restore wetlands, floodplains and streams throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) to reduce nutrient loads to Lake Erie and her tributaries and restore natural infrastructure throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin.  TNC is working with conservation and agricultural community partners to restore natural infrastructure, including wetlands, riparian corridors, and floodplains in the Western Lake Erie Basin to expand, improve, and connect wildlife habitat.  TNC established a goal of restoring 1% of the agricultural acres in the WLEB to natural infrastructure – wetlands, floodplains and riparian corridors that help to manage nutrients and water more effectively.  We have completed initial modeling and mapping to identify the highest nutrient loading areas, best areas for restoring wetlands, and watersheds where stream improvement is likely if nutrients are reduced.  We are currently working with partners on 6 restoration sites from engineering and design to full implementation to convert 500 acres of current agricultural lands to natural wetlands, riparian corridors and floodplains.  In order to reach our goal of restoring 1% (56,000 acres) of agricultural lands, we will continue to engage and support partners and systematically build partnerships to scale up our restoration activities.   This involves a combination of mapping to identify project areas and target areas that will have the most impact on downstream resources, building capacity among our traditional and nontraditional conservation partners and completion of engineering and design for restoration projects.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 4:40pm - 5:00pm EST