Kimages Creek Restoration

The U.S. has lost more than half of its wetlands. Regulations are in place to conserve our remaining wetland resources and to reverse the historical trends by way of protection and restoration.

In fall 2000, VCU acquired a 360-acre property along the James River estuary that would become the VCU Rice Rivers Center. The property included a 70-acre body of water known as Kimages Creek. After the wetland surrounding the creek was clear cut by Civil War troops, the forest once again began to grow back. That forest again was cut, this time in the 1920s when the construction of an earthen dam and spillway at the mouth of the creek formed Lake Charles. The lake covered what had been tidal and non-tidal freshwater wetlands and bottomland hardwood swamp forest dominated by bald cypress and tupelo gum.

Restoration efforts by VCU and its partners began in 2010 and included partial removal of the dam, which successfully reconnected the original Kimages Creek channel to the tidal waters of the James River.

A freely flowing Kimages Creek with restored cypress-tupelo forested wetlands improves water quality, provides fisheries/wildlife habitat and additional critical ecosystem services. This restoration program represents an unprecedented opportunity for research, education and community outreach with in the James River watershed, and improve wetlands management and restoration practices through the mid-Atlantic region.

Dam Removal Timelapse

In 2010, a section of the dam was removed, reuniting the creek, its wetlands and the tidal waters of the James River. Center researchers collaborated with natural resource agencies and organizations to restore the area to its natural hydrology and ecology. Faculty and student projects now are monitoring the restoration of native plants in the wetland, which is making a significant increase in this critical habitat along the lower James.