The Clover Run trout stream in Tucker County, West Virginia, is a major amenity at the Patriots4 (P4) Outdoor Resort, a getaway for combat wounded veterans and their families. But with years of human influence and heavy flood flows eroding the stream banks, the waterway began to compromise the integrity of the structures surrounding the stream.

To address the issues, P4 engaged a stream restoration team, which included a partnership between the West Virginia University Natural Resource Analysis Center, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

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Over a three-year period, the team assessed and monitored the stream and identified multiple restoration goals: repairing the failed stream bank, restoring the stream habitat to optimal health for fish and insect populations and improving the stream access for disabled anglers. Additionally, the team installed measures to document the as-built conditions of the restoration efforts and to monitor the stream over time and understand which restoration practices deployed were the most effective for future research.

In December 2019, a drone equipped with the Clover Run trout stream corridor was flown with the RedTail LiDAR Systems’ RTL-400 to document the as-built condition of the stream, creating a highly accurate, high-resolution 3D map (point cloud) of the area. The stream was mapped in a single 20-minute flight, at an altitude of 262 feet and at a speed of 18 mph.

To monitor the health of the stream and measure the efficacy of the structures installed, the Clover Run stream will be surveyed by drone once a year with the RTL-400, providing the same highly accurate, high-resolution 3D imagery for comparison.

Designed specifically for use on small drones, the RTL-400 was developed with technology licensed from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and engineered to provide high-resolution 3D images of objects on the ground, flying at an altitude of up to 400 feet.

The RTL-400 incorporates a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) mirror-based laser scanner that rapidly and evenly distributes all laser pulses to the ground, moving side-to-side 400 times per second. Combined with a laser pulse rate of up to 400,000 pulses per second, and an optimized scan angle of 35 degrees, the system generates point cloud images in unprecedented resolution and density.