For a while, Dead Run Stream lived up to its gloomy name. But after six years of stream restoration work, the creek running through the heart of McLean should be healthy again this March.
In total, 2,300 linear feet of the stream will be re-greened. Project staff said the restoration could mean better conditions for wildlife in the area, birds in particular.
“Stream restoration is one of our best tools for managing stormwater to restore the local health of our streams,” Matt Meyers, branch chief for Watershed Projects Implementation, said in a video put together by Fairfax County. “Ultimately, our goal is to improve water quality of stream and biological health to make a better habitat for critters, bugs and fish that live in the stream.”
Six years ago, the stream was facing significant erosion. Meyers said the banks of the stream were vertical, over eight feet deep in some locations. The erosion was ultimately beginning to have a negative impact on the habitat of the stream and the quality of life.
The aim of the restoration is to create a vegetation canopy to close in around the stream and establish new roots to hold the banks in place and stall further erosion.
“Stream restoration stabilizes the land, makes the stream valley more accessible, and over time [we] should see more birds and different species with different plants and food sources,” said Meyers. “For us, it’s all about water quality and stream health, not just local streams, but the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.”
The project to restore the stream was broken into three phases. Phase III is located in McLean Central Park and started in 2016.
The total project cost is $2.3 funded through the county Stormwater Service District.
“Early on, there was a lot of concern expressed,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust. “[There were concerns] about tree loss, people were afraid the project would impact their homes, loss of access to trails. It became obvious that there were enough issues and concerns that we needed to focus on it as a community.”