Thomas R. Biebighauser
Wildlife Biologist and Wetland Biologist
Wetland Restoration and Training LLC
Morehead, KY 40351
Tom Biebighauser has been enthusiastically restoring wetlands for over 34-years. He has designed over 5,000 wetland restoration projects and has successfully supervised the construction of over 1,800 wetlands in 22 states, British Columbia, Ontario, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan. Tom builds over 150-wetlands each year, and has developed highly successful and inexpensive techniques for constructing wetlands in urban areas, on rangeland, farmland, and in forested areas. He specializes in planning and building wetlands to provide habitat for endangered and threatened species of animals and plants.
Tom has developed techniques for building wetlands on urban and drained farmland, at schools, on mined land, and in timber sale areas. He has calculated how to build these wetlands so they will not require maintenance. His techniques involve:
1. Restoring the elevation of the water table with groundwater dams
2. Loosening and reshaping compacted soils to control erosion, restore hydric soils, aquatic plants, and provide burrowing habitat for animals
3. Using aquatic-safe liners on rocky and sandy soils
4. Creating thick clay-liners to restore wetlands on shallow soils and in desert regions
5. Reversing livestock and irrigation impacts to springs and streams in arid regions
6. Developing wetlands and streams in urban areas to clean runoff, control flooding and erosion, increase wildlife viewing, and provide opportunities for environmental education.
Tom has designed and built wetlands in hundreds of urban areas. Some of the larger urban areas he has worked to build wetlands include; Victoria, British Columbia, Lexington, KY, Louisville, KY, Somerset, KY, Minneapolis, MN, and Cincinnati, Ohio. These projects often involve changing ditches into streams, and building naturally appearing and functioning wetlands to clean storm water runoff, attenuate flooding, and increase wildlife viewing opportunities. He has built approximately 200-wetlands at universities, high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
Tom worked as a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Forest Service for 34-years, helping personnel from federal, state, and county agencies initiate wetland and stream restoration programs across the United States. He took the lead in completing hundreds of partnership projects for building emergent, ephemeral, forested, and wet-meadow wetlands on public lands during his career with the Forest Service.
Tom teaches that when restoring a wetland, it is necessary to identify and disable historic drainage practices to be successful on the site. He became an expert at identifying actions taken to destroy wetlands including the use of ditches, channeling of streams, filling, and installation of buried drainage structures made from wood, rock, clay, concrete, and plastic. Tom methodically researched the literature from the 1600’s to learn how wetlands were changed into farmland, and for urban areas. He has interviewed hundreds of seniors who spent their lives draining wetlands and moving streams, documenting their practices so others can be successful in wetland and stream restoration.
Tom teaches over 1,000 individuals each year how to design and restore wetlands. He instructs unique 1-7 day long Hands-on Wetland Restoration Workshops where participants learn how to restore wetlands by becoming involved in the design and construction of one or more wetlands from start to finish. These practical training sessions are responsible for empowering hundreds of individuals to restore thousands of wetlands across North America.
Tom has a passion for encouraging and helping people initiate wetland and stream restoration programs. He developed and teaches online graduate and undergraduate-level courses explaining wetland restoration techniques at Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Louisville-Speed School of Engineering, and the State University of New York Environmental Science & Forestry Program.
Tom has written 4-books and numerous publications about restoring wetlands: Over 40,000 copies of his books have been distributed worldwide:
- Thomas R. Biebighauser, A Guide to Creating Vernal Ponds, USDA Forest Service, 33 pages, 2003.
- Thomas R. Biebighauser, Wetland Drainage, Restoration, and Repair, Lexington, KY, University Press of Kentucky, 2007.
- Thomas R. Biebighauser. Wetland Restoration and Construction – A Technical Guide. Upper Susquehanna Coalition, 186 pages, 2011.
- Eubanks, Ellen and Thomas Biebighauser. September 2014. Restoration of Forests, Grasslands, and Wetlands Damaged by Off-Highway Vehicles. 238 pages. USDA Forest Service. National Technology & Development Program, San Dimas, California. U.S. Government Printing Office: 2015-576-483/24032 Region No. 10.
Tom’s passion for restoring wetlands and streams has been recognized by his receiving 44-awards. The latest being the National Wetlands Award for Conservation and Restoration in 2015.