2019 Honor Awards - Shiloh Conservation Area

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Shiloh Conservation Area

Land Design Inc.

The 76-Acre Shiloh Conservation Area is a landmark project for Montana that offers environmentally sensitive treatment of stormwater through wetland development and bio-filtration improving water quality while providing a valuable recreational amenity for the Billings community. This unique approach to stormwater treatment at this scale has exceeded expectations. The quantifiable impact to the community and improvement to water quality has spurred the development of similar projects throughout the state of Montana. Shiloh Conservation Area serves as a case study in an arid mountain desert environment that green infrastructure can and should be incorporated at every level of stormwater management.

Description:

The purpose of the project was to improve water quality through natural treatment methods for a large drainage area before reaching the Yellowstone River. Prior to constructing this project, untreated water containing elevated levels of suspended solids, heavy metals, and excess nutrients flowed from urban and agricultural lands into the Yellowstone River.

Site planning included:

  • site analysis, which found 36 acres of the existing site was a functioning wetland. This area was protected, as well as enhanced upon, for a realized goal of restoration and expansion of a wetland ecosystem.

  • studying the regional trail network and the opportunities for physical connection, both onsite and offsite.

  • supporting physical activity through various programming, such as fishing, community gathering space, running/walking trails, and biking.

  • Encouraging a direct connection to nature. This was accomplished through interfacing user experiences with habitat restoration areas. Presently, it is not uncommon to see visitors stopping along the trail to watch turtles sunbathing on strategically placed downed logs, or birdwatchers sitting on secluded benches tucked near shade trees.

  • utilizing regionally acquired materials where possible including rebuilding native plant communities and most importantly to the catalyst of the project,

  • designing a stormwater management facility that also functioned as a community amenity.

The implemented design features oversized, armored and harvestable sedimentation forebays, a series of shallow flow through wetlands which work with the slopes of the site, and three large ponds which serve as additional water clarification and water detention basins. Notably, wayfinding nodes on the site educate visitors of the complex stormwater treatment happening around them. Native wetland and indigenous riparian zones couple with high plains landscape to create a natural aesthetic for the site while providing critical wildlife habitat and water conservation for a public facility. The site also provides a trailhead to the regional Heritage Trail System and direct access to Montana’s only zoo, numerous multi-family housing areas, and two large commercial developments.

This is Shiloh Conservation Area - a new chapter in stormwater management for Montana.