STREAM CORRIDOR ASSESSMENT

High-Definition Stream Survey of the Chattahoochee River, GA

The High Definition Stream Survey Stream Corridor Assessment (HDSS-SCA) method assessed the Chattahoochee River and six of its tributaries. Field data, collected in October 2018 and June 2020, covered 45.8 miles of the main river and 3.4 miles of streams, respectively. The HDSS-SCA visually classified stream corridor elements and determined conditions, allowing for the creation of informative maps and statistics, facilitating strategic planning, decision support, and stream restoration initiatives, with one site of concern already restored and more projects in development.

Application of the Bank Erosion Susceptibility Index (BESI): Bear Creek, Alabama

The Bear Creek survey collected 64 miles of streambank data at one-second intervals. BESI (Connell 2012) was applied to tie into a simultaneously running bridge and culvert study of over 650 crossings that was using the BEHI (Rosgen, 2001). The ability to rank stream sections and entire watersheds will reduce subjectivity when prioritizing future restoration areas. Combining the results of these surveys with data on other important factors such as land ownership, land use, geology, and jurisdictional boundaries using a GIS approach will allow further prioritization of restoration sites. A key advantage of collecting geo-referenced video of streambank conditions along an entire survey section is the ability to review conditions at any site within the watershed at a later date. Thus, changes over time can be easily documented for sites throughout the watershed. The data can be shared as a data table (in spreadsheet or database format), as a shapefile for use in mapping software, or as video files to directly review the survey information. Importantly, the bank condition survey data can be combined with various other data sets to create new and novel analyses of conditions and management actions, which will support the long-term goals of improving water quality, habitat and species within the Bear Creek River system.

Bank Condition Analysis for Prioritization: Paint Rock River, Alabama

Understanding the quality and distribution of stream habitat is important to managing stream biota. Traditional stream habitat survey methods are often spatially-limited, time-consuming, expensive, and collect limited amounts of data. Using the HDSS system, 53 continuous miles of the Paint Rock River and its tributaries were surveyed in 3 field days. Each GPS point was assigned an associated bank condition score and habitat type (pool, riffle, run), and was used to develop GIS habitat quality maps. The survey results can be used in four ways; 1) As a tool for monitoring the results of previous restoration activities; 2) a tool to prioritize future restoration efforts and action areas; 3) baseline characterization of river bank conditions in 2014 for future review; and 4) to provide easily shared GIS data for numerous agencies to benefit from.

2020 High Definition Stream Surveys on the Delaware River Shehawken Creek and Equinunk Creek, Hancock, NY

Shehawken Creek and Equinunk Creek are tributary streams flowing into the main stem of the Delaware River downstream of the confluence between the Eastern and Western branches of the Delaware River. Both streams are important reproduction streams for wild rainbow and brown trout. The Shehawken Chapter of Trout Unlimited was interested in the High Definition Fish Survey (HDFS) technique to develop citizen science program that would conduct periodic fish surveys in these creeks and other waters in the Upper Delaware watershed. Trutta worked with the Shehawken Chapter of Trout Unlimited to inform members about the HDFS and High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS) techniques and provided the opportunity to complete the HDFS methods on Equinunk Creek. In coordination with the volunteer surveys, Trutta conducted high definition stream surveys of approximately two miles of both Shehawken and Equinunk Creeks using a backpack-mounted system. The surveys took about 1.5 hours each. Trutta subsequently completed a High Definition Fish Survey of Shehawken Creek, documenting underwater aquatic habitat and fish at approximately 100 sites over a 1.5 mile stretch of stream, starting at the confluence with the main stem of the Delaware. The combination of HDSS and HDFS on the streams will allow habitat use, availability and suitability results to be developed and the results will allow TU members to interact with and support fisheries managers in protecting the trout habitat in these important spawning creeks. This project was made possible with funds from the Shehawken chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Embrace-A-Stream program hosted by the national headquarters of Trout Unlimited.

Dam Removal Monitoring: Big Canoe Creek, Alabama

Goodwin’s Mill Dam was removed from the Big Canoe Creek in order to eliminate a barrier to fish and mussel movement. Given the high cost of dam removal and subsequent stream restoration, it is important to monitor stream conditions to assure that improved habitat conditions have resulted from the dam removal actions. One problem when attempting to document changes resulting from dam removal using traditional transect surveys is that the changes to the stream can occur over a broad area up and downstream from the removal site. This makes determining the placement and number of transects extremely subjective. More transects over a wider area will likely document changes more effectively, but this come with a high cost to the annual monitoring budget. To solve this problem, we used the High Definition Stream Survey method. In only 2 1/2 hours, this technique allowed us to quickly collect 1-meter resolution data of both stream banks and the stream bottom for over 3 miles of stream centered on the dam site. The geovideo surveying method was used to delineate pool-riffle-run sequencing, substrate type and embeddedness, depth, bank full depth, bank angle and height, bank erosion potential, and riparian diversity. This information will help show trends in sediment movement, stream geometry, and habitat conditions by comparing the results of annual surveys and to document (hopefully) improving conditions resulting from the dam removal effort.

Baseline Condition Survey: Weogufka Creek, Alabama

A mining company has a claim along the Weogufka Creek and needed to document baseline conditions prior to the mine opening. Many times this type of baseline documentation takes the form of a few transects near the project site and spot surveys at access locations in the larger area. Using traditional methods, the access points were too few and far between in this remote location to gain reliable data. This lack of access to appropriate sites would have made it difficult to pinpoint any direct impact on the creek due to the mining practices. In only one day, the HDSS techniques were used to collect a fully integrated suite of stream and streambank metrics for 17 miles of Weogufka Creek around the project location. Now regulators and the mining company can see any future direct impacts from the mining operation and work quickly and effectively to remedy any negative problems that may arise. An additional benefit arose from using the HDSS approach in that the survey video forms a highly useful archive of the conditions when the mining company first began operations. Over time, as other development occurs within this stream reach, impacts such as increased sedimentation resulting from bank clearing by farmers or homeowners will not be attributed to the mining operation by default as the largest project in the area. The geo-video survey allows site-specific impacts to be separated from cumulative impacts associated with general on-going development.

Duck River, Tennessee: A Collaboration

The Duck River is the most biologically diverse river in the United States and is also the source of drinking water for 250,000 people in Middle Tennessee. In recent years, Trutta has completed 155 miles of High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS). Completing this would have been impossible if not for the partnerships. We have partnered with a group of collaborators from various organizations (Duck River Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), Columbia Power and Water Systems (CPWS), South Central Tennessee Development District (SCTDD), Tennessee State Parks, Stantec, O’Brien & Gere, and InfloDesign). These surveys collected a huge amount of valuable data to assist managers in making good decisions to achieve their goals, while keeping the Duck River healthy. Flow Modeling Our work began below Normandy Dam with TDEC. They were interested in cross-sections data for TMDL flow modeling at one-mile increments. The Cities of Lewisburg and Columbia each funded additional high-density cross-sections in their respective reservoirs for both drinking water and wastewater purposes. Drinking Water Since then, that data has been used by Columbia Power and Water to estimate current reservoir capacities for various water needs including drought planning. Engineering firms, such as O’Brien and Gere, Stantec, and InfloDesign have used the data for monitoring current drinking water intakes, as well as siting new drinking water intakes in collaboration with different municipalities and the Duck River Agency. River Corridor Data While collecting bathymetric data throughout the years, we also ran the HDSS system to collect longitudinal river corridor data. Every mile of river has StreamView video, depth data, and side scan sonar imagery that can be used for numerous different water resource management purposes. MS4 stormwater permitting, streambank restoration prioritization, and habitat suitability modeling are just some of the ways that this data could be used today. With the surveys already completed, this data can be made available to you at a reduced cost. Other Uses for HDSS Data Trutta has also been in discussions with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) to help determine habitat for endangered mussel species, with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about suitable locations for streambank plantings, and Tennessee State Parks about using the video for information and education.

2020 Trout Habitat Assessment and Restoration Prioritization: Upper Delaware River, Hancock, New York

The Upper Delaware River is a premier wild-trout fishery in the eastern United States and flows through New York and Pennsylvania. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Friends of the Upper Delaware River wanted to document habitat availability and suitability for wild trout in the Upper Delaware River system. Key objectives included: 1) determining the habitat conditions for wild brown trout and rainbow trout; 2) providing information to help prioritize future river projects related to the preservation and maintenance of trout habitat, and 3) providing a baseline of information that will be used to measure the impacts of future projects on the health of the river system. Trutta completed a High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS) of approximately 80 miles of the Upper Delaware River in approximately 5 days using a combination of inflatable rafts and kayaks. The survey area covered the West Branch from Deposit, NY to Hancock, NY; the East Branch from Downsville, NY to Hancock, NY; and the main river from the confluence of the East and West branches at Hancock south to Callicoon, PA. The HDSS involved two rafts to ensure documentation of the conditions of both stream banks, the streambed, and stream conditions. Trutta also completed cross-sectional transects at 1-mile increments for bathymetric modeling purposes. This project was funded with as part of a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Contract aimed at enhancing the New York-Pennsylvania Joint Fisheries Investigation Plan.

High-Definition Stream Survey of the Caney Fork River, TN

Cold water releases from the Center Hill Dam support a high-quality trout fishery in the lower portion of the Caney Fork River, TN. The trout fishery and recreational paddling opportunities (kayaks and canoes) draw people from all over the region and greatly benefit the local economy. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manages the flow releases from Center Hill Dam to support power production, flood control, and the trout fishery. The USACE plans to upgrade its generation capacity at Center Hill Dam, and as a result, will change the current amount and duration of the generation flows coming out of the dam. The Cumberland Chapter of TU, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are concerned about the potential negative effects of the flow changes and are interested in ways to improve water quality, trout habitat and fishing success for anglers. We used the HDSS approach to gather continuous, geo-referenced data on 27 miles of the Caney Fork River corridor from the Center Hill Dam downstream to the confluence with the Cumberland River. We captured data on both river banks and depth, water quality, habitat type and bottom characteristics of the river channel. Concurrent to our HDSS data collection, TWRA conducted their electrofishing trout sampling and we outfitted their sampling boat with GPS and video to document the exact locations of fish captures during the survey. The HDSS data documented habitat availability while the TWRA data documented trout habitat use. The information was then used to determine the location and extent of trout habitat, areas susceptible to streambank erosion, areas suitable for instream habitat enhancement, and areas most suitable for wade or boat fishing. The results provided TU, TWRA and TDEC with complete documentation of river corridor conditions, information on the trout population, prioritized locations for trout enhancement projects, and fishing maps to improve angler success. This project highlights the strength of the HDSS approach to efficiently gather a wide range of river corridor information to support both management applications and recreational angler needs. Along with the report, the field data and results from the Caney Fork River HDSS project were provided in digital format.

High-Definition Stream Survey of the Falling Water River, TN

Due in part to the growth of the area, sections of Falling Water River have been listed as impaired on the State’s 303(d) list with stormwater runoff, non-point source pollution, sanitary wastewater, and water withdrawals all contributing to its water quality problems. Effectively managing water resource issues associated with the Falling Water River requires high quality data of the current conditions in river corridor. This primary goal of this project, funded by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), was to collect state-of-the-art, high-resolution, geo-referenced longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys on 23 miles the main channel of the Falling Water River, 5 miles of Pigeon Roost Creek and 2.6 miles of Hudgens Creek to enable efficient characterization of stream channel conditions and provide geomorphic data for modeling purposes. We accomplished this goal by completing four main objectives: collecting high-resolution, geo-referenced longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys on the main channel of Falling Water River, Pigeon Roost Creek and Hudgens Creek to document baseline river bank and instream conditions during June/July 2016, producing stream-view HDSS video, classifying habitat and bank condition and creating a database of collected information, analyzing data by creating aquatic habitat GIS layers for depth, habitat type (pool, riffle, run), and left and right bank condition scores, and making assessments and identifying other potential applications of the HDSS results to support river management. The HDSS project resulted in over 65,000 lines of data covering the survey area. We collected 28 cross-sectional transects to support water management modeling applications. From the longitudinal survey, we assessed the left and right bank condition as a metric of the potential for shoreline erosion. In general, approximately 15% of the stream banks of the Falling Water River were in good or optimal condition. Conversely approximately 26% were in the poor or very poor categories. Most of the Falling Water River system was in average condition. From a distribution perspective, it appears that Hudgens Creek is in poorest overall condition and the upper and lower segments of Falling Water River are in the best condition. We also observed issues associated with losing water reaches, log jams, and livestock management. The High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS) approach proved to be a successful method to rapidly collect a wide range of useful information about the Falling Water River and the HDSS video of the river system will allow decision makers and other parties to see high-definition video of the streambank conditions of the entire survey area from June/July 2016 and have the high resolution classified data to make specific comparisons for different projects.

Potential Infrastructure Impacts and Mitigation: Turkey Creek, Alabama

The proposed 52 mile Birmingham Northern Beltline crosses numerous creeks, and as part of minimizing the environmental impact of the project, documenting instream conditions within the affected creeks is a fundamental component. To aid in documenting the current conditions within the stream channels of Turkey Creek, our team used HDSS to provide up-to-date, geo-referenced video and develop spatially continuous maps of bank and stream conditions. The survey data can be used in many ways but this report will focus on the method’s ability to: 1) provide a baseline characterization of river bank and instream conditions in during the survey, 2) develop aquatic habitat GIS layers for depth, habitat type (pool, riffle, run), substrate type, percent embeddedness, and left and right bank condition scores, 3) document areas of high habitat suitability for endangered darter species, and 4) identify areas that are most suitable for mitigation restoration. Rather than restore streambanks where no darters will benefit from the investment, we used the HDSS data to locate areas with the greatest instream habitat combined with poor streambank condition.

Stream Condition Assessment: Timber Run, Maryland

Timber Run, a long-term monitoring, reference stream in Maryland was surveyed using the High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS) and High Definition Fish Survey (HDFS). The survey was completed by a single surveyor using the HDSS Backpack setup in a single day and covered over 3.7 km. The habitat assessment included stream channel geomorphology, bank condition, instream habitat, and infrastructure and was completed in only 2.2 hours. The fish surveys were completed on a wide range of habitats throughout the stream. This long-term reference stream had been surveyed numerous times over the past 19 years, but the traditional survey methods only covered 100m and required 4-6 people to complete. The combination of the HDSS and HDFS approach proved much faster and more spatially complete than past traditional surveys and provided new insights into this reference stream.

High Definition Stream Survey to Support Stormwater Management: Cleveland, TN

Using the High Definition Stream Survey (HDSS) approach, a comprehensive stream corridor assessment was conducted in Cleveland, TN, covering 28 miles of streams to support Tennessee phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) general stormwater permit. We collected the field data by utilizing GPS, video cameras, and sonar to visually classify conditions and determine modification types for the streambed, streambanks, riparian areas and stormwater outfalls. The project's value lies in the provided videos and spatial data, enabling detailed inspection of instream conditions to inform diverse management decisions in the municipality.

High Definition Stream Survey for Physical Habitat and Water Quality of the Harpeth River, TN

A High Definition Stream Survey was conducted on a 50-mile stretch of the Harpeth River, collecting physical habitat and water quality data in August and September 2022. Parameters included depth, water surface elevation, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, and more. The survey aimed to support the creation of a QUAL2K model for assessing water quality requirements for a proposed wastewater treatment facility in Franklin, TN. The focus was on data collection to inform the water quality model and support the water treatment facility permit.

High Definition Stream Survey: Choccolocco and Cheaha Creek, Alabama

Using the HDSS system, 68 continuous miles were surveyed on the Choccolocco and Cheaha Creeks in 4 field days. In addition to documenting baseline conditions and habitat types, large woody debris and man-made structures were also assessed and geo-referenced. Illegal water withdrawal, illegal dumping, un-fenced cattle, and man-made fish barriers were geo-referenced so that further legal action can be taken. Using the locations and density of woody debris, correlations can be observed when compared to areas of high bank erosion. This information can also be used with IBI’s and the abundance of macroinvertebrates to better understand overall stream health.

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