Location: Woodbine, Maryland
Partners Involved: Patrick Family (Maple Dell Farm Owners), Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Howard Soil Conservation District
Type of Buffer: Agricultural
Maple Dell Farm, Inc. (“the Farm”) is a 96 acre active dairy and row crop farm, the only remaining private dairy farm in Howard County. Two smaller channels merge on the northwestern portion of the Farm to form the mainstem of Little Lisbon Creek which continues east through the Farm and eventually to Triadelphia Reservoir (Patuxent Watershed), a major drinking water source for over a half million residents in Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Howard counties.
Prior to the stream buffer installation, 190 dairy cattle roamed throughout the floodplain on the Farm, including previously having access to the stream channel for watering and crossing to pastures on the opposite bank. Because of the heavy use this land saw on a daily basis, erosion was evident along the entire stream and heavy sedimentation was visible in the stream. The majority of the stream channel had no trees or vegetation lining the banks and averaged a 4 foot eroded bank throughout the property. Significant levels of nitrogen and phosphorus entered the stream from waste while the cattle were in the floodplain or crossing the stream, as well as, waste runoff from the adjoining pasture, feed lot, and milking barn.
After partnering with the Patrick Family, owners of Maple Dell Farm, Inc., Howard County performed a natural stream channel restoration of the entire 6,182 linear feet of stream and riparian wetland in 2018. Following construction, a 50-foot-wide stream buffer was planted on each side of the stream utilizing a variety of native trees and shrubs (644 2” caliper trees, 1,772 tubeling trees, and 26,434 livestakes in the banks). These plantings, along with spreading a native seed mix, greatly reduced the invasive species in the buffer during the initial growing seasons. The planted buffer reduces erosion, filters nutrients from the pasture, and slows stormwater flowing to the stream. The entire planted buffer area now is fenced, thereby removing cattle from over 15 acres of floodplain that was previously used as pasture.
This location was a critical restoration site as the stream channel running through the Farm is a Howard County Green Infrastructure Network (“GI Network”) corridor (a wildlife pathway connecting main habitat areas/hubs) that provides a unique link across major watershed boundaries, connecting the Patapsco and Patuxent watersheds. This cross-watershed link provides a greater habitat range and increases the chance of species diversity and survival. The Farm is located 1/3 mile upstream from a GI Network hub (a main habitat area) with a wetland containing a threatened plant species as defined by Maryland DNR. The Farm’s onsite wetland restoration within the stream buffer will provide ideal habitat for the threatened species. Improving the protection of wildlife along the GI Network corridor running through the Farm will increase the wildlife migration and movement along this corridor. This wildlife movement may in turn increase the population of the threatened plant species within the new stream buffer area.
Funding was provided by a Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund Grant (administered by Maryland Department of Natural Resources), a grant from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (the local drinking water authority), and Howard County Government.
This post Is part of the first annual CCLC Riparian Buffer Month. For more information check out our page
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