Assessment of the role of bottomland hardwoods in sediment and erosion control

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Drainage and clearing of bottomland hardwoods have long been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) as important impacts of Federal water projects in the lower Mississippi River Valley. More recently, the water quality impacts of such projects (e.g., increases in sediments, nutrients, and pesticides) have also become of concern. In 1984, in an effort to better define problems concerning wetland losses and water degradation, EPA initiated a cooperative project with the Western Energy and Land Use Team (now the National Ecology Research Center) of the Service. Three phases of the project were identified:

1. To collect existing literature and data;

2. To select, develop, and test the utility of methods to quantify the relationships between land use, cover types, soils, hydrology, and water quality (as represented by sediment); and

3. To apply selected methodologies to several sites within the Yazoo Basin of Mississippi to determine the, potential effectiveness of various management alternatives to reduce sediment yield, increase sediment deposition, and improve water quality.

Methods development focused on linking a simulation of water and sediment movement to a computerized geographic information system. We had several objectives for the resulting model. We desired that it should:

1. Estimate the importance of bottomland and hardwoods as a cover type that performs the functions of erosion and sediment control,

2. Simulate effects of proportions of ' various cover types and their specific spatial configurations,

3. Be applicable to moderately large spatial areas with minimal site-specific calibration,

4. Simulate spatial patterns of sediment loss-gain over time, and

5. Represent both sediment detachment and transport.

While it was recognized that impacts and management alternatives could be sorted roughly into landscape measures and channel measures, the decision was made to focus study efforts mainly on landscape measures. Landscape measures include altered drainage and flooding patterns, altered cover types (e.g., conversion of bottomland hardwoods to agricultural crops, reforestation of cropland to bottomland hardwoods, and creation of riparian buffer strips), altered cropping and tillage patterns, altered routing of water, and creation of buffer strips along wetlands and channel margins. Channel measures include vegetative bank stabilization, grade control structures, and regulation of channel water volume and velocity.

During the first year of the study, EPA decided not to fund the third phase of the project. This required considerable rescoping of the project with the result that application of the sediment mobilization, routing, and deposition models to various management alternatives and portions of the Yazoo Basin was somewhat restricted. We believe, however, that this report will provide a good understanding of the various modes of sediment mobilization, transport, and deposition within the Yazoo Basin, as well as of the role of bottomland hardwoods. The model developed in this study could be applied to a variety of management or mitigation alternatives prior to implementation to determine their relative effectiveness. Policy, political, and socio-economic consequences of any proposed management/mitigation practice, however, must ultimately be taken into consideration by those charged with management of water resources within the Yazoo Basin before any practice is implemented. This study makes no effort to judge the feasibility of management alternatives in this regard.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Assessment of the role of bottomland hardwoods in sediment and erosion control
Series number NERC-88/11
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 116 p.
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