Topography and Sedimentation Characteristics of the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Holt County, Missouri, 1937-2002

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4211

ORCID iD and



The Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge (hereafter referred to as the Refuge), located on the Missouri River floodplain in northwest Missouri, was established in 1935 to provide habitat for migratory birds and wildlife. Results of 1937 and 1964 topographic surveys indicate that sedimenta-tion, primarily from Squaw Creek and Davis Creek inflows, had substantially reduced Refuge pool volumes and depths. A study was undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to quantify and spatially analyze historic rates of sedimentation in the Refuge and determine the surface elevations, depths, and pool capacities for selected managed pools from a 2002 survey.The 1937 to 1964 mean total sediment depo-sition, in the area corresponding to the 2002 sur-veyed pool area (about 4,900 acres), was 1.26 ft (feet), or 0.047 ft/yr (foot per year). Mean annual rates of deposition, by pool, from 1937 to 1964 varied from 0.016 to 0.083 ft/yr. From 1964 to 2002, the mean total sediment deposition in the 2002 surveyed pools was 0.753 ft, or 0.020 ft/yr. Therefore, the mean rate of sediment-depth accu-mulation from 1964 to 2002 was about 42 percent of the mean 1937 to 1964 rate, or a 58 percent reduction. Mean annual rates of deposition by pool from 1964 to 2002 varied from 0.010 to 0.049 ft/yr. Despite a substantial reduction in the average sediment accumulation rate for the Refuge, 5 of the 15 separate pools for which annual rates were calculated for both periods showed a small increase in the deposition rates of up to 0.008 ft/yr. Sediment deposits have resulted in a sub-stantial cumulative loss of volume in the Refuge pools since 1937. The 1937 to 2002 total sediment volume deposited in the 2002 surveyed pool area was about 9,900 acre-ft (acre-feet), or 152 acre-ft/yr (acre-feet per year). The volume of sediment deposited from 1937 to 1964 for these pools was about 6,200 acre-ft, or 230 acre-ft/yr. The volume deposited from 1964 to 2002 was about 3,700 acre-ft, or 97.3 acre-ft/yr.Bulk density values were determined from sediment cores collected from 22 sites in the Ref-uge and the bulk densities, along with sediment volumes, allowed for the calculation of sediment mass contributions to the Refuge. From 1937 to 2002, about 10,300,000 tons of sediment were deposited in the 2002 surveyed area, or 32.4 tons/acre/yr (tons per acre per year). The total computed mass of sediment deposited between 1937 and 1964 was about 6,510,000 tons, or an average of 49.1 tons/acre/yr. The total mass depos-ited from 1964 to 2002 in surveyed pools was about 3,830,000 tons, or an average of 20.5 tons/acre/yr. As with sediment thickness compari-sons, the rate of sediment mass deposition between 1964 to 2002 was about 42 percent of that from 1937 to 1964, or a 58 percent reduction.The greatest amounts of sediment deposition in the Refuge for 1937 to 2002 have been near the Squaw Creek and Davis Creek inflow spillway locations. Sediment depths in some areas near former inflow locations have exceeded 8 ft. Relo-cation of an inflow spillway effectively reduced additional sediment deposition at the original loca-tion, and caused increased sedimentation at the new inflow location. This is most clearly depicted in a pool located in the north section of the Refuge that directly received Squaw Creek inflows from 1937 to 1964 and had a mean deposition rate of 0.081 ft/yr reduced to 0.012 ft/yr, from 1964 to 2002, after inflows were redirected and erosion-management plans were implemented in the con-tributing basins.

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USGS Numbered Series
Topography and Sedimentation Characteristics of the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Holt County, Missouri, 1937-2002
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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iv, 52 p. : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 28 cm.