The Morehead News

Local News

January 29, 2008

Wildlife expert says restoration helps habitats

During the past 200 years, Kentucky has lost most of its wetlands to drainage and development and now one local man has written a book to help folks restore these “important” ecosystems.

Thomas R. Biebighauser, a wildlife biologist for the USDA Forest Service in Daniel Boone National Forest, has taught wetland management workshops across North America.

In fact, he is a three-time recipient of the Forest Service’s national Taking Wing award and is an expert in the field while working on over 1,000 restoration projects.

And in efforts to help restore wetlands, Biebighauser’s second book “Wetland Drainage, Restoration and Repair, is a comprehensive collection of information that explains why people drained wetlands and how to bring them back.

Biebighauser writes in his book that wetlands are a prominent and vital part of the natural landscape and ecology and that concentrated efforts are needed to ensure their survival.

“By reading this book a person will be able to pick up on techniques in building his or her own wetland,” Biebighauser comments. “I hope to encourage people to bring by these vital ecosystems and to look at our landscape in a totally different way.”

Biebighauser said it’s easy to restore or develop a wetland. “Anyone can do this, even a beginner,” he commented.

With a little help from his book, the wildlife biologist said he is satisfied a person would be able to recognize former wetlands and even reverse the damage done by ancient drainage efforts. As far as where some wetlands are located, Biebighauser said they are widespread – including in Rowan County.

What happened to the wetlands? Years and years ago, people placed a higher value on fields that could be farmed than on what they viewed as a “useless swampland,” Biebighauser said.

“When I began writing about wetland restoration I thought that recording a few techniques would cover most opportunities, well I found out that was wrong,” he said. “There are many ways to construct a wetland. My book describes simple techniques in restoring a wetland.”

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