C+S March 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 3 (web)

lowering cortisol (stress hormone) and raising serotonin (the “happy chemical” our nerve cells produce). Areas of water in or near nature are particularly beneficial to human health and we tend to seek them out when we can (think beach and lake vacations). People enjoy being near nature – it improves their mood and wellbeing. Stream restorations at pipe crossings locations create an opportunity for Blue Space and nature accessibility for the community. If a stream corridor is owned by the City or Park District, a pipe crossing a stream can become a park amenity by adding a pedestrian bridge over the stream, creating a walking path near the stream, incorporating wa- terfalls or other water features, or building a playground or pavilion adjacent to the stream. The City of Champaign, Illinois took advantage of the Boneyard Creek restoration project in a similar fashion (Photo 3). Though the main objective of the project is to provide flood storage, the restoration provides a multi-use trail along-side the channel and flood storage ba- sin, called Second Street Basin. On any given day, you can walk past the Second Street Basin and see kids playing in the waterfall feature, runners jogging on the trails crisscrossing the Basin, and people bird- watching, picnicking or just napping on the benches along the creek. Provide Ecological Benefits Stream restorations are an ecologically friendly way of approaching stream instabilities to protect infrastructure. Many of the features that help create a stable stream and protect infrastructure, like access to a floodplain and boulder structures, also provide benefits to ecology. When streams flood onto their floodplains, food sources found on floodplains are washed into the channel. Organic matter like leaves, woody debris, and vegetation are introduced into the stream ecosys- tem. Aquatic invertebrates, like insect larvae, snails, and crawdads, consume the organic matter; fish consume invertebrates. To create and preserve a healthy circle of life in the stream, you need a constant sup- ply of organic material, which is readily available on the floodplain. Stream structures designed to protect the bed and banks of streams, as well as the infrastructure on the bed and banks, also provide ecological benefits to the stream system. Structures create diversity in channel flow. Slower water upstream of the structure and immediately behind (downstream) of a boulder are refuges for smaller fish. The fast- moving riffles over a structure provide dissolved oxygen to the water. Fast-moving water also washes away fine sediment particles from the

Copper Slough post-restoration. Photo: Jenkins / Farnsworth Group

a longer, more gradual curve, adding stability in the stream. Native vegetation was planted on the banks to protect against bank erosion and to provide an ecological habitat for pollinators and small wildlife (Photo 2). Because of this stream restoration, the electrical box is protected, the stream is stable, ecology in the area is flourishing, and the homeowners can reap the benefits associated with being near nature. Increase personal wellness While at graduate school in Maryland, I lived in a suburb of Washing- ton D.C. My research afforded me an opportunity to get outside, but my day-to-day routine kept me in very urban environments. I found myself making time to hike and camp, referring to it as my “woods fix.” After my “woods fix,” I felt centered, calm, and rejuvenated. Several years later I realized that it’s not just me who needs a “woods fix.” Researchers have found that being in nature or even viewing scenes of nature reduces anger, fear, and stress. Forest bathing, a com- mon practice in Japan, consists of simply being in the forest and has be- come a healing and preventive healthcare practice in Japanese medicine. Blue Space, a specific subset of “woods fix,” is the term given to the impact of water (sea, river, lakes, and even urban water features) on health and wellbeing. The sight and sound of water can relax us by

The Second Street Basin of the Boneyard Creek in Champaign, Illinois. Photo: Jenkins / Farnsworth Group


march 2020


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