Using Google Earth measure the impervious surfaces and mown lawn areas at your home or school. 

Calculate the amount of runoff per rain event by 1/10 inch, 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch. 1 inch, and the maximum 24 hour rainfall recorded in your watershed this year. Graph these points on THIS WORKSHEET

BMPs for You and Me! 

Rain Barrels - Rain barrels capture runoff from the roof of a building by intercepting the flow from the downspout and typically collecting the first 50 - 60 gallons of runoff depending on the size of the barrel. 

Mark the locations of your downspouts

Determine which roof planes drain to which downspouts

Word Problem: How many 60 gallon rain barrels would you need to install on your house to captue 5% of the runoff from your roof?

Word Problem: Assuming you install a rain barrel on the downspout with the largest catchment area at your house, If it rains 1 inch over the course of an hour, how long will it take to fill up your rain barrel? (Note: make sure you only count the area that is draining into the barrel)

Rain Garden - Rain Gardens are small infiltration basins that are planted with native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees. A rain garden is like a sponge, it can absorb a lot of runoff using a relatively small amount of space. Because rain gardens help put so much water in the ground it is a good idea to make sure they aren't too close to your house where they could contribute to basement seepage. For this reason, rain gardens should be located at least 10' from all building walls. A properly sited rain garden will be located down-gradient from the basement of your home because a) this will further prevent basement seepage and b) the runoff will have to be directed to the rain garden gravity.

Site Design Assignment : Survey your home or school landscape and determine where the general slope on the site, take note of the highest and lowest areas on the site. Next identify any areas where water tends to pool after a big rain, add these to your Stewardship Site Plan in Google Earth. Now draw a 10' buffer around your home or school building. 

Getting the water to the garden? 

Landscape Fragmentation

Habitat fragmentation is frequently caused by humans when native vegetation is cleared for human activities such as agriculturerural developmenturbanization and the creation of hydroelectric reservoirs. Habitats which were once continuous become divided into separate fragments. After intensive clearing, the separate fragments tend to be very small islands isolated from each other by cropland, pasture, pavement, or even barren land.


In the Kiefer Creek Watershed we would like to foster the restoration of robust native flora, fauna, and animal species. Because the watershed is home to a substantial amount of development, the subsequent roads, lawns, and parking lots have fragmented what would naturally be a large contiguous area of forests, glades, and wetlands. Because the habitat of the watershed and the region has become fragmented, species that require large areas to thrive are less likely to inhabit the watershed. To begin studying the fragmentation of the landscape in Kiefer Creek we have used some interesting new data to isolate and measure the height of the vegetatiive area in the watershed. As you can see below, the Kiefer Creek Watershed has been broken into many small fragments in the nothern and eastern portions of the watershed. 

KieferSpecificFinal TreeCover

If we pull back a ways and look at the areas surrounding the Kiefer Creek Watershed Area, you can see that the watershed really does stand out as an area wedged between intensive deforestation and effective conservation, with a mix of both within its bounds.

kiefercreek treecovertones

Restoring Riparian Zones

Riparian zones are key to preserving healthy creeks. The riparian zone is the area bordering the creek, providing the creek’s last defense against runoff and erosion.

Much of the creek in the park has healthy riparian zones – the creek runs through the beautiful forests of the park, giving plenty of room for water to be filtered and stored. But in certain areas, there is no buffer at all: the creek directly borders a road or an area of mown lawn. This is where you see some of the worst erosion of the creek bed.

In response to this problem, we are working to restore the riparian zones in Castlewood. Working with our partnering organizations, we are moving to convert a few key areas of the park to native plants. We’ve chosen locations that would provide a lot of value to the creek as restored forests or prairies, and we’ve also considered which areas are least used by visitors to the park.  

Why Riparian Zones?

Reduces erosion and pollution: Water traveling towards to the creek will be absorbed by the plants in the riparian zone, allowing the water to be filtered and stored. But if the creek is bordered by mown lawn or pavement, the water rushes directly into the creek – speeding up erosion and sending pollutants from the ground directly into the creek.

Reduces landscape fragmentation: Landscape fragmentation is one of the biggest factors affecting how much bio-diversity an area can support.  

Native Plant Demonstrations

In our time in Castlewood last spring, we noticed that there are spots of mown lawn that collect water and turn into muddy puddles for most of the spring. The grass does not have deep enough roots to absorb the water. These areas are ripe for a rain garden of native plants. Along with absorbing the water that collects in these areas, the rain garden will serve as an example for homeowners who may have a similar problem or who like the look of a native plant-based garden.

The garden will have a mix of plant life – providing beautiful sights, fragrant flowers, and shade in a highly used area of the park. Along with improving the absorption of water in the park, the garden will be an educational tool for homeowners in the watershed – educating them on what a rain garden can look like and how it can affect the watershed.

Helping Homeowners Restore the Watershed

Promoting homeowner-based watershed restoration begins with education. Projects such as the rain garden demonstration in Castlewood will help to spread awareness of what homeowners can do, and other educational programs will be included in our watershed plan.

Today, we are working with the St. Louis Audubon Society to promote their project that helps homeowners restore native plants to their homes. “Bring Conservation Home” provides inexpensive landscaping consulations with trained specialists. Their consultation helps you create a plan to plant native plants, remove invasive species, reduce stormwater runoff, and increase habitat for birds and other native wildlife.


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This website and other efforts related to the Kiefer Creek Restoration Project are partially funded by the Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. MoDNR Subgrant G11-NPS-21.

Kiefer map lidar complete

If you are from the St. Louis area, or if you have spent much time here, then there is a good chance that you have spent some time in the Kiefer Creek Watershed. This small watershed sits on the fringe of the urban sprawl blossoming out into western St. Louis County. On the northern end of the watershed, Manchester Road forms a thick belt of asphalt and strip malls. The southern end of the watershed is marked with the confluence of Kiefer Creek and the Meramec, a serene (other than the occasional train) forested place where the water flows clear and fish can be seen schooling in the pools.

Kiefer Creek flows through the heart of Castlewood State Park, a natural recreation resource cherished by the St. Louis community for over 100 years. Kiefer Creek is a tributary to the Meramec River, one of the most biologically diverse, free-flowing, and healthy rivers in any urban area in the United States. In the 1970’s, after a hard fought battle with the federal government, Missourians staunchly rejected proposals to dam this natural wonder. Kiefer Creek is one of the last tributaries to the lower Meramec that retains its natural beauty and a relatively undeveloped watershed.

The creek’s natural beauty is an asset to the community. The people in the watershed are clearly proud of their creek – many of the neighborhoods, roads and businesses in the area are named after Kiefer Creek. Unlike their neighbors in nearby watersheds, the people in the Kiefer Creek community can boast about their creek’s natural flowing water, as well as the beauty of their forested and hilly watershed. When travelling through the Kiefer Creek watershed, you get the impression you’re no longer in the suburban sprawl of St. Louis County - the trees, steeply sloped hillsides and clear flowing water transport you back in time. Even in the parts of the watershed with significant suburban development, the residents have stunning views of the beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, Kiefer Creek exhibits high levels of bacteria after rainfall. In testing by the USGS between 1996 and 2004, bacteria levels exceeded safe levels for recreation after increased flows from rainfall in the watershed.

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