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SFS Annual Meeting

Monday, June 3, 2024
13:30 - 15:00

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S25 Advances in Watershed-scale Restoration Science and Monitoring

13:30 - 13:45 | Freedom Ballroom E | MODELING NON-POINT SOURCE RESTORATION AND LAND PROTECTION EFFORTS IN THE DELAWARE RIVER BASIN

6/03/2024  |   13:30 - 13:45   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Modeling non-point source restoration and land protection efforts in the Delaware River Basin The goal of this study was to identify hotspots of excess nonpoint source pollution (nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment) in Delaware River Basin (DRB) streams and catchments after accounting for known restoration and land protection activities. We focus here on phosphorus because it frequently limits productivity and is linked to sediment transport dynamics. This study was a part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI). State agency BMP implementation data (PA and NJ) were also included. DRWI accomplishments included 26,414 acres of protected forests and 1,446 restoration BMPs covering >296,841 acres. To model water quality changes we built an automated system that utilized Model My Watershed® APIs, FieldDoc.org APIs, and other APIs to pinpoint loads and BMP reductions down to each of the 19k NHDPlus catchments. We then summarized those nested results for each of the 480 HUC12s across the DRB. Total phosphorus reductions from DRWI restoration efforts were ~45,800 lbs/yr and non-DRWI efforts reduced TP loads by >44,012 lbs/yr, representing ~6.7% and 6.5% of the excess TP nonpoint source load, respectively. Excess nonpoint source load was estimated as the amount of pollution above a “healthy water target” derived from literature values comparing exceptional value with impaired watersheds in PA. The remaining TP xnps load after accounting for restoration projects throughout the geography was 591,860 lbs/yr, or about 86.8% of the original TP xnps load. Other model outcomes included estimates of future effort and investment to reduce the remaining xnps loads and future pollution avoided by permanent protection of forested lands.

Dave Arscott (Primary Presenter/Author), Stroud Water Research Center, darscott@stroudcenter.org;

Anthony Aufdenkampe (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), LimnoTech, aaufdenkampe@limno.com;

Barry Evans (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, bme39@drexel.edu ;

Lin Perez (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, lbp43@drexel.edu ;

13:45 - 14:00 | Freedom Ballroom E | THE SUSTAINABLE RIVERS PROGRAM: IMPLEMENTING ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS INTO ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT OF USACE INFRASTRUCTURE.

6/03/2024  |   13:45 - 14:00   |  Freedom Ballroom E

THE SUSTAINABLE RIVERS PROGRAM: IMPLEMENTING ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS INTO ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT OF USACE INFRASTRUCTURE. The Sustainable Rivers Program (SRP) is a national partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and The Nature Conservancy. The mission of SRP is to improve the health and life of rivers by changing dam operations to restore and protect ecosystems while maintaining or enhancing authorized uses and other project benefits. The SRP has grown from eight rivers in 2002 to 49 locations across the continental United States and is growing. SRP teams are advancing, implementing, and incorporating environmental flows science in 25% of USACE’s river portfolio. Managing and improving flows for ecological targets such as fisheries, mussels, floodplains, and avian fauna, among others, is being realized at numerous river systems engaged in SRP; SRP is the largest scale and most comprehensive program for implementing environmental flows at USACE facilities. The success is attributed to the SRP process of engaging subject matter experts and stakeholders to inform and collaborate in the decision-making process. Throughout its life, SRP has honed the methods for engaging leaders in hydrology, engineering, and natural resources as well as river basin interest groups to provide regional expertise and current knowledge to change operations at USACE-managed facilities. The presentation will highlight SRP’s footprint and the improved management of rivers to date, describe SRP’s stakeholder engagement process, and showcase examples where ecohydrology relationships changed operations at SRP sites. The presentation will also show SRP’s application of science-driven models to achieve environmental opportunities in highly regulated river systems.

Becca Winterringer (Primary Presenter/Author), The Nature Conservancy, b.winterringer@tnc.org;

14:00 - 14:15 | Freedom Ballroom E | INVERTEBRATE INDICATORS OF ENVIRONMENTAL FLOWS IN THE WILLAMETTE BASIN, OREGON

6/03/2024  |   14:00 - 14:15   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Invertebrate Indicators of Environmental Flows in the Willamette Basin, Oregon Seven Willamette Basin locations, representing reaches for flow targets in the Willamette Sustainable Rivers Program (SRP) were sampled for benthic macroinvertebrate abundance and biomass at three sites each in the summers of 2022 and 2023. Sites were selected to overlap with available historical data and two of the locations, one each in the North Santiam and McKenzie River, were paired to pilot hydrophone placement sites to allow for observations of flow thresholds associated with substrate movement. Considering abundance, biomass, and community traits, the current SRP flow targets were less informative of invertebrate dynamics than we had expected, suggesting that current targets may not fully represent their intended ecological thresholds. We also note evidence for two expanding invertebrate invasions in the Willamette Basin that may complicate future analyses. Ongoing collections of invertebrate and other biological data paired to substrate and sediment movement could be useful in evaluating alternative flow thresholds and may be important to adaptive environmental flow management.

Christina A. Murphy (Primary Presenter/Author), U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Orono, ME, christina.murphy@maine.edu;

William Gerth (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Oregon State University, william.gerth@oregonstate.edu;

J. Rose Wallick (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon Water Science Center, rosewall@usgs.gov;

James White (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon Water Science Center, jameswhite@usgs.gov;

14:15 - 14:30 | Freedom Ballroom E | RECONNECTING THE DOTS, EVALUATING WATER QUALITY UNDER HYDROLOGIC RESTORATION SCENARIOS IN A SUBTROPICAL WETLAND.

6/03/2024  |   14:15 - 14:30   |  Freedom Ballroom E

Reconnecting the dots, evaluating water quality under hydrologic restoration scenarios in a subtropical wetland. Large-scale hydrologic restoration is complex and can influence interrelated processes and downstream conditions. Given the intricacies of processes across spatial and temporal scales watershed models allow for the assessment and potential effectiveness of sub-watershed to regional remediation strategies for ecological restoration. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) aims to restore the quality, quantity, and timing of water to one of the most ecologically unique and complex systems. Given the scale and scope of Everglades Restoration, CERP planning efforts are broken into a series of projects. This study aimed to evaluate changes to water quality associated with hydrologic restoration efforts within the Feeder Canal Basin as identified by the Western Everglades Restoration Project (WERP) and evaluated the potential effectiveness of implementing water quality remediation measures such as Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) within the study area. Using the Watershed Assessment Model (WAM) various model alternatives were simulated baseline and restoration alternatives. Implementing both moderate and aggressive BMPs significantly reduced total phosphorus concentrations within the canal system at various levels indicating an improvement to near-field conditions. However, the combined effect of moderated BMPs and the operation of an STA resulted in a significant water quality improvement across the study area. The combined strategy of BMPs and STA demonstrates the integrated nature of nutrient remediation with both near and far-field benefits to the system with hydrologic restoration. This integrated water quality and hydrologic restoration strategy can lead to a more sustainable and resilient restored ecosystem.

Paul Julian (Primary Presenter/Author), The Everglades Foundation, pjulian@evergladesfoundation.org;

Steve Davis (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), The Everglades Foundation, sdavis@evergladesfoundation.org;

14:30 - 14:45 | Freedom Ballroom E | EVOLVING APPROACHES TO STREAM RESTORATION AT A SMALL WATERSHED SCALE

6/03/2024  |   14:30 - 14:45   |  Freedom Ballroom E

EVOLVING APPROACHES TO STREAM RESTORATION AT A SMALL WATERSHED SCALE Efforts to restore our rivers and streams in the rural and agricultural landscape have evolved significantly since the 1990s. Changes to restoration strategies and efforts include more robust and/or effective best management practices (BMPs), an increased density and integration of BMPs on individual farm operations, increased density of improved farm operations within a targeted watershed, and a renewed interest in reexamining causes of stream impairment. Watershed restoration efforts on southeastern Pennsylvania streams Valley Creek and Indian Run in the 1990s typically included no riparian forest buffer, or narrow buffers with a single row of trees. Implementation of conservation planning and BMPs was typically not comprehensive and limited to manure management or storage priorities. Farms were addressed as individual landowners initiated a request for assistance, resulting in limited participation in any individual watershed. Completing work on 4 or 5 farms in a 10-15 km2 watershed was uncommon, and reductions in the assumed sources of impairment, sediment and phosphorous, were evaluated, at best by modeling. Recent efforts to address stream impairment and improve ecosystem health, such as efforts on Red Clay Creek in Chester County, PA, are far more comprehensive. Conservation plans and comprehensive BMP implementation cover over 75% of the agricultural acreage, with riparian forest buffers averaging over 100’ wide. A broad suite of potential impairments including temperature, agricultural chemicals, sediment, etc. is considered and factored into watershed treatments. Restoration performance is estimated with the GWLF-e model, and monitored with water chemistry, temperature sensors, and aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling.

Matthew Ehrhart (Primary Presenter/Author), Stroud Water Research Center, mehrhart@stroudcenter.org;

John Jackson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, jkjackson@stroudcenter.org;

Bernard Sweeney (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, sweeney@stroudcenter.org;

David Wise (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Stroud Water Research Center, dwise@stroudcenter.org;