Concurrent Session: Case studies in hydrologic assessment
10:45 AM - 12:00 PM Wed
Title: Enhancing stream-floodplain connectivity in the Driftless Area: opportunities and assessment
Abstract: Human alterations to stream systems have largely disconnected streams from their floodplains, inhibiting potential benefits like enhanced nutrient and sediment removal, in-stream and riparian habitat quality and diversity, and flood peak attenuation. As a result, restoration of stream-floodplain connectivity is a clear priority for stream managers and practitioners in the Driftless Area, especially because of increasing interest in improving water quality and becoming more resilient to increasingly frequent extreme floods. In the Driftless context, conversion of native prairie, oak savanna, and forests to cropland and pasture by Euro-American settlers in the mid to late 1800s drove devastating erosion that resulted in floodplain sedimentation, or post-settlement alluvium deposition, that disconnected streams from their floodplains. The widespread nature of this deposit offers abundant opportunities for reconnection. But mechanical removal of this sediment can be costly, so restoration projects typically limit sediment removal to the near bank zone, which limits the scope of stream-floodplain reconnection. I will present case studies from several recent and planned restoration projects as well as methods for quantifying both pre- and post-project connectivity using imagery data collected from an unmanned aerial system (i.e., drone).
Bio: Eric Booth holds a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from UW-Madison (2004), a master's degree in hydrologic science from UC-Davis (2006), and a PhD in limnology from UW-Madison (2011). He is broadly interested in the intersection between water, land, climate, and humans with recent projects related to stream-floodplain restoration and agricultural water quality.