Stream restoration has received much attention in recent years, yet there has been little effort to evaluate its impacts on physical habitat, stability, and biota. A popular but controversial stream restoration approach is natural channel design (NCD), which cannot be adequately evaluated without a long-term, independent assessment of its effects on stream habitat. Six reaches of five Catskill Mountain streams in southeastern New York were restored during 2000–2003 following NCD techniques to decrease bed and bank degradation, decrease sediment loads, and improve water quality. Habitat surveys were conducted during summer low flows from 2001 to 2007. The effects of the NCD projects on stream condition were assessed via a before–after–control–impact study design to quantify the net changes in stream and bank habitat variables relative to those in unaltered control reaches. Analysis of variance tests of three different measures of bank stability show that on average stream stability increased at treatment sites for 2–5 years after restoration. Mean channel depth, thalweg depth, and the pool–riffle ratio generally increased, whereas mean channel width, percent streambank coverage by trees, and shade decreased. Habitat suitability indices for local salmonid species increased at four of six reaches after restoration. The changes in channel dimensions rendered them generally more characteristic of stabler stream forms in the given valley settings. Although these studies were done relatively soon after project completion, our findings demonstrate that habitat conditions can be improved in degraded Catskill Mountain streams through NCD restoration.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Effects of natural-channel-design restoration on habitat quality in Catskill Mountain streams, New York|
|Series title||Transactions of the American Fisheries Society|
|Publisher||Taylor and Francis|
|Contributing office(s)||New York Water Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||Catskill Mountains|