Date of Award:

12-11-2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Watershed Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Joseph Wheaton

Abstract

In response to human impacts, river restoration and rehabilitation actions have become a priority in the United States. In the Pacific Northwest, most restoration actions are focused on repairing degraded freshwater habitat to increase or improve Pacific salmonid production. However, traditional river restoration actions remained largely unchanged for over 100 years despite a lack of definitive evidence that the actions were effective. More recently, there has been a surge in process-based restoration actions, which aim to reestablish the physical and biological processes that maintain fluvial and floodplain environments by targeting the root causes of degradation in a watershed. Cheap and cheerful restoration projects focus on restoration actions that are low impact and cost effective, can be implemented over large scales, and target degraded processes. However, because cheap and cheerful restoration is a relatively new method, the success of these types of projects has not been assessed.

To address this issue, I studied the short-term physical effectiveness of a type of cheap and cheerful restoration that uses high density large woody debris (HDLWD) to restore instream habitat complexity in two wadeable tributaries to Asotin Creek in southeast Washington State. My specific research objectives included (1) assessing hydraulic and geomorphic responses in the stream channel imposed by restoration structures, (2) quantifying the changes to geomorphic channel unit assemblages post restoration, (3) quantifying changes in sediment storage post restoration, and (4) developing a geomorphic condition assessment of Asotin Creek using the River Styles Framework. Additionally, I developed a mobile database application (app) to facilitate data collection using a novel rapid restoration effectiveness assessment survey.

Through analysis and a thorough review of the land use history in Asotin Creek, I determined that much of the watershed is in poor geomorphic condition based on the River Styles Framework for river classification. Many stream reaches have been degraded from their historic condition and often lack habitat complexity associated with suitable rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids. My results indicate that the structures are impose several immediate hydraulic responses following installation. These hydraulic responses increase hydraulic roughness, which results in predictable geomorphic responses following high flow events. Following restoration, the number and area of pools and bars significantly increased within treatment sites, while the number and area of planar units decreased. Likewise, it appears that the addition of the structures has led to a 25% increase in depositional volume at treatment sites compared to control sites.

Results from the rapid assessment approach supported the more vetted approaches used to assess the efficacy of the treatment. However, the viability of the app and rapid protocol indicate that inter-observer variability may be high, and estimates of geomorphic unit area are not entirely consistent with the vetted approaches. Analysis of the rapid assessment approach revealed pertinent improvements to the app and rapid protocol that will be made in the future.

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Life Sciences Commons

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