Georgia Environmental Restoration
Environmental restoration may be defined as the reestablishment of the general structure, function, and dynamic self-sustaining behavior of a disturbed ecosystem. Restoration efforts can be focused on rivers and streams, wetlands, forests, prairies, or combinations of valuable ecosystem habitats. The process involves a wide variety of treatment measures to remove environmental stressors, reconstruct natural water bodies, reintroduce native plants and animals, manage natural events such as fire, and prevent future harmful impacts.
Conditions in Your Watershed
Georgia has several environmental restoration projects in many stages of completion going on throughout the state. They range from stream restoration projects, geared at improving bank stability, to large-scale projects returning rivers to their original course.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains a website that inventories river corridor and wetland restoration projects in Georgia, and throughout the United States. One such project is a restoration project on a portion of the Soque River in Northeast Georgia, which was conducted by the Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper and several government agencies including EPA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Resources and Programs
The Georgia Stream Buffer Initiative, a statewide interagency partnership, was created with the purpose of increasing buffer awareness and understanding among Georgia landowners, while accelerating the adoption of conservation buffers across the state. The Initiative is based on education and Best Management Practice (BMP) implementation and demonstration, of which monitoring of water and wildlife is a critical component.
The University of Georgia has several ongoing environmental restoration research programs. The UGA affiliated Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (former nuclear waste disposal site) provides a unique opportunity for restoration projects. A majority of SREL’s restoration projects focus on wetlands within the boundary of Savannah River Site, but they also have projects regarding restoration of degraded land.
UGA’s faculty and students have become increasingly involved in urban stream restoration. Like small urban streams on many college campuses, UGA’s Tanyard Creek has significantly degraded over the years. Efforts of engineering, ecology, and landscape architecture students, staff and faculty have increased the entire UGA Campus’ awareness of Tanyard Creek’s condition. A groundbreaking summer studio class has lead to several research projects (both student and faculty/staff) dealing with reducing storm-flow to Tanyard Creek and has attracted the interest of UGA officials who are considering implementing research findings into new construction on campus.
The University of Georgia Institute of Ecology’s Office of Public Service and Outreach manages the Etowah Initiative. The program is designed to help protect the ecological integrity of the Etowah River Basin by working with stakeholders to reduce the impact of human activities on water quality and biodiversity. The Etowah Initiative is a service-learning course that provides a structured and supportive format for students to apply policy, design and ecological principles learned in the classroom to the real world of people and policy. Among other issues, researchers have addressed the importance of stream habitat by recommending Habitat Conservation Plans for properly maintaining stream quality during bridge and culvert construction.
College and University Education
University of Georgia
- College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Water Resources Certificate
- College of Environment and Design
Other Stream Restoration Links
- General Environmental Restoration Links
- City of Griffin Stream Restoration Initiative
- Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission Stream Restoration Guidelines
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Mitigation Guidelines – Georgia
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lower Savannah River Restoration Project
- U.S. EPA’s Georgia Wetland Links