Presentation Type

Poster

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Ben Colman

Faculty Mentor’s Department

W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation

Abstract

Like many streams in the northern Rocky Mountains, Ninemile Creek in Western Montana was degraded by placer mining. This type of gold mining leaves a legacy of physical transformation to the stream, characterized by a highly incised and straightened river channel and loss of the floodplain. These changes to the physical structure lead to hydrology characterized by low-flows during much of the year punctuated by large pulses of water during spring snowmelt. This combination renders it an unsuitable habitat for many invertebrates, fish species, and mammals including beaver. Recently, several phases of restoration in the Ninemile Creek watershed led by Trout Unlimited (TU) have reintroduced sinuosity into several reaches of the stream while increasing floodplain interaction with the river channel. To speed recovery of the biotic component of this newly constructed floodplain ecosystem, TU has planted willows and used a native seed mix. Following restoration, TU has also observed beaver moving back into restored reaches and further enhancing ecosystem structure through dam building. To inform TU about the efficacy of their revegetation efforts in the restored areas of Ninemile Creek, we propose a riparian monitoring plan. This plan focuses on monitoring: vegetation composition using line point intercepts; the presence of beaver lodges, dams, and canals; and the accumulation of fine sediments in the floodplain soils. The effort will help TU adaptively manage their current and future restoration activities on the Ninemile Creek and other similar restoration projects.

Category

Life Sciences

Share

COinS
 
Apr 17th, 3:00 PM Apr 17th, 4:00 PM

Assessment of Riparian Ecosystem Structure in Restored Reaches of Ninemile Creek

UC South Ballroom

Like many streams in the northern Rocky Mountains, Ninemile Creek in Western Montana was degraded by placer mining. This type of gold mining leaves a legacy of physical transformation to the stream, characterized by a highly incised and straightened river channel and loss of the floodplain. These changes to the physical structure lead to hydrology characterized by low-flows during much of the year punctuated by large pulses of water during spring snowmelt. This combination renders it an unsuitable habitat for many invertebrates, fish species, and mammals including beaver. Recently, several phases of restoration in the Ninemile Creek watershed led by Trout Unlimited (TU) have reintroduced sinuosity into several reaches of the stream while increasing floodplain interaction with the river channel. To speed recovery of the biotic component of this newly constructed floodplain ecosystem, TU has planted willows and used a native seed mix. Following restoration, TU has also observed beaver moving back into restored reaches and further enhancing ecosystem structure through dam building. To inform TU about the efficacy of their revegetation efforts in the restored areas of Ninemile Creek, we propose a riparian monitoring plan. This plan focuses on monitoring: vegetation composition using line point intercepts; the presence of beaver lodges, dams, and canals; and the accumulation of fine sediments in the floodplain soils. The effort will help TU adaptively manage their current and future restoration activities on the Ninemile Creek and other similar restoration projects.