Estimating changes in riparian and channel features along the Trinity River downstream of Lewiston Dam, California, 1980 to 2011



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Dam construction, flow diversion, and legacy landuse effects reduced the transport capacity, sediment supply, channel complexity and floodplain-connectivity along the Trinity River, CA below Lewiston Dam. This study documents the geomorphic evolution of the Trinity River Restoration Program’s intensively managed 65-km long restoration reach from 1980 to 2011. The nature and extent of riparian and channel changes were assessed using a series of geomorphic feature maps constructed from ortho-rectified photography acquired at low flow conditions in 1980, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2009, and 2011. Since 1980 there has been a general conversion of riparian to channel features and expansion of the active channel area. The primary mechanism for expansion of the active channel was bank erosion from 1980 to 1997 and channel widening was well distributed longitudinally throughout the study reach. Subsequent net bar accretion from 1997 to 2001, followed by slightly higher net bar scour from 2001 to 2006, occurred primarily in the central and lower reaches of the study area. In comparison, post-2006 bank and bar changes were spatially-limited to reaches with sufficient local transport capacity or sediment supply supported by gravel augmentation, mechanical channel rehabilitation, and tributary contributions to flow and sediment supply. A series of tributary floods in 1997, 1998 and 2006 were the primary factors leading to documented increases in channel complexity and floodplain connectivity. During the post-2006 period managed flow releases, in the absence of large magnitude tributary flooding, combined with gravel augmentation and mechanical restoration caused localized increases in sediment supply and transport capacity leading to smaller but measurable increases in channel complexity and floodplain connectivity primarily in the upper river below Lewiston Dam.

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Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Estimating changes in riparian and channel features along the Trinity River downstream of Lewiston Dam, California, 1980 to 2011
Year Published 2015
Language English
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 9 p.
Conference Title SEDHYD 2015
Conference Location Reno, Nevada
Conference Date April 19-23, 2015
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Trinity River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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