Effects of Streambank Fencing of Near-Stream Pasture Land on a Small Watershed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Fact Sheet 2006-3112

Prepared in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
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This study indicated that a small buffer width along a stream in pasture land can have a positive influence on surface-water quality, benthic macroinvertebrates, and near-stream shallow ground-water quality. Overland runoff processes that move suspended sediment to the stream were controlled (or reduced) to some extent by the vegetative buffer established. Results indicated streambank fencing resulted in decreases in N-species, total-P, and suspended-sediment concentrations and yields at the outlet of the treatment basin relative to untreated sites; however, dissolved-P concentrations and yields increased. These results indicate that nutrient management, in conjunction with streambank fencing, is important in helping to control nutrient loadings to streams in this agricultural setting. An upstream site (T-2) in the treatment basin showed post-treatment reductions in suspended-sediment yields and increases in N and P yields. The different results for these treated sites indicates the effects of streambank fencing should be studied at as large a scale as possible because field-scale influences on water quality as drainage area decreases can mute the effects of fencing. Benthic-macroinvertebrate data indicated streambank fencing had a positive influence on benthic macroinvertebrates and their habitat. More improvement was detected at the outlet of the treatment basin than the upstream sites. Probably the most important biological metric, taxa richness, indicated a greater number of benthic-macroinvertebrate taxa at treated relative to control sites after fencing. Results indicated fencing improved shallow ground-water quality (for the well nest in a stream-gaining area), as noted by decreased concentrations of N species and fecal-streptococcus counts. This improvement only occurred at the well nest where the stream was gaining water from the shallow ground-water system.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Effects of Streambank Fencing of Near-Stream Pasture Land on a Small Watershed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center
4 p.
United States
Lancaster County
Other Geospatial:
Big Spring Run Basin