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Title: A review of theoretical frameworks applicable for designing agricultural watershed restoration projects

item Smiley, Peter - Rocky
item LENHART, CHRISTIAN - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Agricultural watershed restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of ecosystem structure and/or function within watersheds that have been degraded and damaged by agriculture. Unfortunately, agricultural watershed restoration is the rare exception within the Midwestern United States despite the need to mitigate environmental damage caused by agriculture. Typical restoration approaches in agricultural watersheds either focus on improving water quality or improving riparian and instream habitat quality. Our objective is to review theoretical frameworks applicable for designing watershed restoration strategies in the Midwestern United States to highlight how these frameworks might be used to design agricultural watershed restoration projects. We identified five theoretical frameworks that include: 1) the Treatment Train Concept; 2) Naturalization; 3) Building Block Model; 4) Rosgen Natural Channel Design; and 5) Riparian Management System. The Treatment Train Concept, Naturalization, and Riparian Management System have been used to design restoration projects in the Midwestern United States. The Building Block Model was developed to design restoration projects in watersheds with extensive agricultural drainage. The Rosgen Natural Channel Design is a widely used design approach in stream restoration. None of the five frameworks explicitly incorporates watershed-scale management. All five concepts promote the restoration of riparian corridors and streams within agricultural watersheds. However, only two concepts (Treatment Train Concept, Rosgen Natural Channel Design) also promote restoration of uplands within agricultural watersheds. Our review suggests that the Treatment Train Concept is the most applicable concept for designing future agricultural watershed restoration projects because it is the most likely to result in holistic restoration projects that involve the use of multiple types of restoration practices implemented within the uplands, riparian corridors, and streams of agricultural watersheds. We recommend holistic approaches towards agricultural watershed restoration because they are the most likely to result in community-based approaches that involve local landowners, agencies, and other stakeholders.