Clear-cut logging followed by agricultural activity caused hydrologic and geomorphic changes in North Fish Creek, a Wisconsin tributary to Lake Superior. Hydro-geomorphic responses to changes in land use were sensitive to the location of reaches along the main stem and to the relative timing of large floods. Hydrologic and sediment-load modeling indicates that flood peaks were three times larger and sediment loads were five times larger during maximum agricultural activity in the 1920s and 1930s than prior to about 1890, when forest cover was dominant. Following logging, overbank sedimentation rates in the lower main stem increased four to six times above pre-settlement rates. Accelerated streambank and channel erosion in the upper main stem have been and continue to be primary sources of sediment to downstream reaches. Extreme floods in 1941 and 1946, followed by frequent moderate floods through 1954, caused extensive geomorphic changes along the entire main stem. Sedimentation rates in the lower main stem may have decreased in the last several decades as agricultural activity declined. However, geomorphic recovery is slow, as incised channels in the upper main stem function as efficient conveyors of watershed surface runoff and thereby continue to promote flooding and sedimentation problems downstream. [Key words: fluvial geomorphology, floods, erosion, sedimentation, deforestation, agriculture.].
Additional publication details
Spatial and temporal sensitivity of hydrogeomorphic responceand recovery to deforestation, Agriculture, and floods