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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Implementation of In-Stream, Streambank, and Riparian Practices in Conjunction of Upland Practices for Conservation of Water Resources

Location: Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research

Project Number: 3070-13000-011-09-R
Project Type: Reimbursable

Start Date: Oct 1, 2013
End Date: Jul 31, 2017

In this multifaceted project, the major objectives are: Biophysical Research: To develop a watershed-scale prioritization scheme to efficiently target in-stream and streambank conservation/management practices. This prioritization scheme will include determining both where to implement in-stream, streambank, and riparian practices, and also how many stream miles require practices at a watershed scale to reach long-term water quality improvements. Results from this prioritization scheme will be functions of future climate and precipitation patterns, and therefore potential climate change scenarios will be addressed. Economic and Social Research: To illustrate relative preferences of adjacent landowners, policymakers, and citizens associated with drought constraints in order to weight the potential stabilization schemes. A second objective will be to analyze the determinants of adoption of riparian and in-stream practices. Extension: To provide a workshop for farmer/landowners in the watershed, and especially for those at priority areas within the watershed based on results from the research component. In addition to landowners, extension programming will be performed to educate natural resource managers, policy makers, and regulators on the use, benefits, and limitations of using in-stream, streambank, and riparian controls for water quality improvements. Education: Educational activities will focus on youth to increase understanding of the importance of streams and rivers and water quality, using the OSU stream trailer. Additionally, research results will be incorporated into hydrology and fluvial hydraulics undergraduate and graduate courses at OSU. Some of the stream reaches identified from the research component will be used for a new intersession field course in environmental science and engineering.

Biophysical Research: The research approaches include rapid geomorphic assessment, channel cross-sections throughout the watershed, including bank height, bank layering, channel slope, bank slope, bankfull height/depth, and sinuosity, characterization of the riparian corridor and vegetation establishment, installation of water level loggers for stage recording, analysis of soil bulk density and particle size analysis, and use of JETs and BSTs to characterize streambank erosion/failure resistance. Following major storm events, we will collect repeat cross-section data to quantify changes in the stream transects. Using GIS, we will quantify bank migration from NAIP aerial photographs. We will parameterize and validate the CONCEPTS model by setting up detailed cross-sections in the model at each of the characterized stream transects. Upland inflow and sediment loads into the channel will be simulated using the SWAT model. We will perform CONCEPTs model simulations of various conservation/management practices for in-stream, streambank, and riparian practices utilizing different implementation strategies across a range of future climate scenarios and provide information from the model simulations on long-term cost-effective stabilization project strategies and locations. Economic and Social Research: To determine individuals' preferences, a best-worst methodology will be applied, also called maximum difference scaling. Each group will be given the potential improvements in ecosystem, turbidity, decreased sedimentation, riverbank land lost, and other parameters and asked to choose the best and worst. Over a series of choice sets, this gives a relative ranking of the outcomes of the engineering project without dollar values. This will be fed into a cost minimization linear program and used to weigh the outcomes for targeting practices. A second objective will analyze whether individuals on the riparian corridor have already adopted practices and what their characteristics are, such that future or better practices could be targeted to them as early adopters or to identify barriers to adoption. This naturally dovetails into the extension program and will be provided to agencies to inform them on preferences of target audiences. Extension: Fact sheets and online videos regarding in stream and riparian corridor controls and management will be distributed via the internet and could be utilized in the future by area extension agents. Based on results from the research component relative to characterizing the channel, we will demonstrate cost-effective techniques for RGAs for regulators, natural resources managers, academics, extension educators, and other interested stakeholders. For workshops, a paired blind before and after assessment will be performed to evaluate learning.

Last Modified: 2/23/2016
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