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Project Stream

Photo of the Project Stream site

Project Stream is at the heart of the Restoration Ecology Program. Prior to 2012, Project Stream was an unnamed (and largely unknown) waterway feeding into the north end of the Mount Holyoke College lakes system. Kate Ballantine's Restoration Ecology class began studying the stream and conducting research. They soon found that, like much of the globe, the Mount Holyoke College water system has problems with nutrient pollution, and Project Stream was not functioning to its full potential to remove those nutrients and filter the water. REP students took on the task of planning for and implementing a full site restoration. Through their efforts, that plan became a real-life restoration project.

Restoration Goals

  • To improve the quality of water entering Upper Lake from the tributary stream.
  • To set the site on a trajectory toward dominance by native plant species.
  • To encourage site visitors and program participants to engage in the science, practice, and social dimensions of ecological restoration through education and outreach endeavors.

Project Stream Phase 1

Phase 1 construction began on August 24, 2015 and was completed and opened to visitors in November, 2015. Watch the time-lapse.

Why focus on one little stream?

Mount Holyoke is not unique in its water pollution issues.
Insights gleaned from research and restoration at the Project Stream site should be widely applicable.

Nutrient pollution is a problem of national scope.

  • 14,000 nutrient-related impairment listings in 49 states
  • 2.5 million acres of lakes and reservoirs
  • 80,000 miles of rivers and streams
  • And this is a known underestimate...
  • Over 47% of streams have medium-to-high levels of phosphorus and over 53% have medium-to-high levels of nitrogen
  • 78% of assessed continental U.S. coastal waters exhibit eutrophication, many with harmful algal blooms
  • Nutrient impacts reflect doubling of U.S. population over past 50 years (increased construction, wastewater, and food production)
  • In agricultural areas, more than one in five shallow, private wells contained nitrate at levels above the EPA drinking water standard

Ribbon Cutting

Assistant Professor Kate Ballentine, students and alumnae from the Restoration Ecology program were on hand to officially open the boardwalk at the Project Stream site on May 14, 2016.

Cross-section drawing of the Project Stream site

Project Partners

New England Environmental logo

New England Environmental, Inc.
Amherst, MA

NEE is working with the Restoration Ecology Program to provide a full range of environmental consulting services for the Project Stream restoration, from on-site wetland and soil assessment and landscape architectural and ecological design services to invasive species management, permitting, and construction management/oversight. Registered Landscape Architect Andrew Bohne worked with the REP to design Project Stream, envisioning a meandering wetland with hummocks and hollows that engages students and visitors alike along an elevated boardwalk, with gathering space for an outdoor classroom. The plans created with NEE were essential to getting the wetland restoration project permitted, and NEE's continued involvement in the project is vital to meeting the project goals.

Scapes Builders & Excavation logo

Scapes Builders & Excavation, LLC
South Deerfield, MA

With an outstanding reputation for quality work in wetland areas, Scapes Builders is our excavation and construction crew. The Scapes team will be lowering the elevation of the floodplain to bring the stream back into connection with the surrounding wetland landscape–a key piece of the restoration. Scapes will also be building the pedestrian boardwalk that will allow visitors from MHC and the surrounding communities to experience the new wetland up close.

Clean Water Action logo

Clean Water Action
Boston & Northampton, MA

Clean Water Action unites diverse groups to protect our environment, health, economic well-being, and community quality of life, with key focuses on preventing water pollution and maintaining clean, safe, and affordable water. Clean Water Action helped make the Project Stream restoration possible through a generous grant.

Photo of restoration ecology boardwalk

Visit Project Stream

The Project Stream site is open to the public and offers visitors an ADA accessible boardwalk that meanders through forested wetlands alongside the stream.