Taylor Run Stream VA

Taylor Run goes through densely populated areas of Alexandria, Virginia, and interacts with a major freeway cloverleaf. The restoration is part of the larger project of cutting harmful runoff into Chesapeake Bay.

The purpose of the Taylor Run stream restoration is to reduce and limit the ongoing erosion, widening, and downcutting in the corridor. This effort will help to prevent pollution (sediment and phosphorous) associated with that erosion from being delivered downstream. Currently, the design process is ongoing with additional community outreach events occurring in fall 2020 (see “Community Outreach”, below). The construction is anticipated to begin in mid- to late-2021 and are expected to include trail safety improvements.

What seems a fairly innocuous project turns out to be controversial. A local environmental group, The Environmental Council of Alexandria, disagrees with the plan. In a letter to the local paper:

The biggest problem with the so-called natural channel design approach to stream “restoration” for us in the greater Washington D.C. region is that it is planned and implemented in completely the wrong places: small order, interior forested, upper headwater streams and wetlands.

Natural channel design, the Rosgen method, is mainly applicable to large order streams and rivers, especially the kinds one finds in the American west. Applying it to small order, upper headwater stream channels of the deeply dissected Fall Zone of our area is:

• a misuse of the methodology,

• a misunderstanding of eastern Fall Zone hydrology and stream geomorphology,

• a sure recipe for failure,

• a mismanagement of public funds by inappropriately targeting sediment-control projects in places with low levels of the very nutrients for which funding is based,

• and an unacceptable loss of irreplaceable native forest, wildlife and landscape memory.

The controversial stream construction projects currently planned throughout the region embody the worst elements of misguided land use projects at virtually every level, from land giveaway to poor planning to rubber-stamping by elected officials.

The project is in the public hearings portion, and the Environmental Council of Alexandria is raising money to pay for a consulting expert.

We have asked the City to hire John Field, or at least to let him review the plans as our representative and work with the City to revise the plan. We have no intention of letting the City and its high-priced consultants dictate how we go about restoring this stream. The strongest evidence against their plan is that they don’t really know what’s there now. They belittle the nature that’s there in order to give credence to their highly destructive project. You shouldn’t need to destroy something in order to restore it.

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