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Archive for the ‘RIVER RESTORATION’ Category

The Fluid and the Solid TRAILER from Alex + Ben on Vimeo.

If you haven’t used the term “Anthropocene” much, you can be forgiven. The term is of fairly recent origin, and it’s used to describe what some believe is a new geologic age: one in which human activity has changed the earth and its atmosphere. It’s a big idea, one that catches a lot of other ideas in its net—climate change being the most powerful. The idea of the Anthropocene lends more weight to what we already understand are the consequences of human activity. Our impact is not just local, national, or global, but temporal. We’ve literally changed the scale of geologic time.

The awesome consequences of human agency on the land are tough to convey without sounding ponderous, but for the filmmakers Alex Chohlas-Wood and Ben Mendelsohn, who are interested in things like infrastructure, technology, and the human/nature interface, much of the story can be told by the landscapes where these earth-changing processes take place. Which is how they came to make a documentary nominally about dredging, dredge landscapes, and sediment flow: The Fluid and the Solid.

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Photo by Chris Sass, Associate ASLA

Photo by Chris Sass, Associate ASLA

From the August 2013 issue of LAM:

By Adam Regn Arvidson, FASLA, editor of Now

Of the professionals who deal with stream restoration—civil engineers and landscape architects—the latter, according to Tim Keane, generally have little understanding of how streams actually function. To remedy that, Keane, a landscape architecture professor at Kansas State University, with Chris Sass, Associate ASLA, who teaches landscape architecture at the University of Kentucky, and dozens of students through the years have been literally getting their feet wet in Kansas streams. They’re not inventing new ways of looking at watercourses, but gaining an understanding of how accepted stream science actually works.

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Debris floats in New York’s East River. Brennan Cavanaugh/Flickr

FEMA isn’t the only federal agency helping places affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has provided $5.3 million in funds through its Emergency Watershed Protection program.

NRCS has distributed the money equally between its state offices in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia—each is getting $480,000. Local sponsors can apply for funding for projects to get rid of storm debris from waterways and to restore places that have been scoured or washed away by floods. Funds are available for both public and private property. NRCS will pay up to 75 percent of a project’s total cost, and the sponsor is responsible for the rest. Local offices may also use the money for purchasing floodplain easements.

If you are involved in restoration efforts, also be sure to check out NRCS’s online portal Atlantic Coastal Restoration. It has information on stabilizing sand dunes and revegetating shorelines and is linked into the USDA’s wonderful PLANTS Database.

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Courtesy MVVA and Thomas Phifer & Partners

When Austinites want to spend time by the water, Lady Bird Lake, stocked with fish and ringed by pedestrian trails, is a popular choice. Not so for Waller Creek, which wanders through downtown Austin before it empties into Lady Bird Lake—the waterway is partially channelized, eroded, and polluted. But there are plans for it that will give locals a chance to love Waller Creek as much as the lake it feeds.

An international design competition hosted by the Waller Creek Conservancy asked designers for their visions for the lower 1.5 miles of the riparian watershed, and they just announced the team of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., and Thomas Phifer & Partners as the winners. The team’s design is a chain of parks in five connected districts:  The Lattice (at left), The Grove, The Narrows, The Refuge, and The Confluence.

CultureMap Austin reports that the Waller Creek Conservancy hasn’t gotten a chance since the announcement to meet with the winning team and discuss finances and timing, so more information will be coming soon.

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Photograph: ZUMA Wire Service / Alamy/Alamy

The first step to kayaking the L.A. River, and perhaps the toughest, is finding it. Rory Carroll, a reporter for The Guardian, took on that challenge, eventually meeting up with the intrepid group LA River Expeditions to navigate the concrete channel. This is the group’s inaugural season on the river, and George Wolfe, the founder of LA River Expeditions, hopes that the kayak tours are the first step to changing the community’s perception of the river. “We have to start thinking in new ways, and using words differently. If you call it a sewer ditch you treat it like a sewer ditch. Call it a river and you treat it like a river,” Wolfe says.

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Photo: Courtesy Waller Creek Conservancy

In Austin, Texas, today, four teams made the final shortlist for the Waller Creek Competition, a bakeoff to find the best way to restore 1.5 miles of Waller Creek through downtown Austin. The competition, sponsored by the public-private Waller Creek Conservancy and led by Donald Stastny, covers 28 acres around the creek, or, the conservancy says, 11 percent of downtown. Thirty-one teams entered the first stage of the competition; that list was cut to nine teams earlier this year. The four finalists are: CMG and Public Architecture; Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates with Thomas Phifer & Partners; Turenscape and Lake | Flato Architects; and Workshop: Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, and Rogers Marvel Architects. An announcement of a winning team is expected October 16.

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Courtesy ATELIER DREISEITL

For many years, the Kallang River in Singapore was confined to a concrete channel. Today, a three-kilometer stretch of the river running through Bishan Park has been restored through the country’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters Programme. Bishan Park, designed by the landscape architects at ATELIER DREISEITL with the engineers at CH2M Hill, opened officially on Saint Patrick’s Day, and it has its own emerald isles. The river is not just a pretty place to hang out; it is designed with flood control, biodiversity, and the small country’s drinking water needs in mind. Check out this time-lapse film showing the transformation

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