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River restoration strategies in channelized, low-gradient landscapes of West Tennessee, USA

Special Paper of the Geological Society of America

By:
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DOI: 10.1130/2009.2451(14)

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Abstract

West Tennessee has a complex history of watershed disturbance, including agricultural erosion, channelization, accelerated valley sedimentation, and the removal and reestablishment of beaver. Watershed management has evolved from fl oodplain drainage via pervasive channelization to include local drainage canal maintenance and local river restoration. Many unmaintained canals are undergoing excessive aggradation and complex channel evolution driven by upland erosion and low valley gradient. The locus of aggradation in fully occluded canals (valley plugs) moves up-valley as sediment continues to accumulate in the backwater behind the plug. Valley plugs that cause canal avulsion can lead to redevelopment of meandering channels in less disturbed areas of the fl oodplain, in a process of passive self-restoration. Some valley plugs have brought restored fl oodplain function, reoccupation of extant historic river channels, and formation of a "sediment shadow" that protects downstream reaches from excess sedimentation. Despite the presence of numerous opportunities, there is presently no mechanism for including valley plugs in mitigation projects. In 1997 a survey of 14 reference reach cross sections documented relations between drainage area and bankfull geometry of relatively unmodified streams in West Tennessee. Reassessment of seven of those sites in 2007 showed that one had been dammed by beaver and that two sites could not be analyzed further because of signifi cant vertical or lateral instability. In contrast to other regions of North America, the results suggest that stream channels in this region fl ood more frequently than once each year, and can remain out of banks for several weeks each year. ?? 2009 Geological Society of America.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
River restoration strategies in channelized, low-gradient landscapes of West Tennessee, USA
Series title:
Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
DOI:
10.1130/2009.2451(14)
Issue:
451
Year Published:
2009
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
First page:
215
Last page:
229