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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Taught since 1992 (the longest-running course devoted to river restoration at a major research university), this course emphasizes understanding of underlying goals and assumptions of restoration and integration of science into restoration planning and design. Students review restoration plans and evaluate completed projects. In addition to lectures and discussions by the instructor, students, and an extraordinary set of guest lecturers drawn from the active restoration community, the principal course requirement is an independent term project involving original research. The term projects are peer-reviewed, revised, and ultimately added to the permanent collection of the UC Water Resources Collections and Archives, where they can be searched in the Scotty and Melvyl catalogs. Independent term projects are presented each year in a public symposium.

Cover page of Hydrologic Analysis and Restoration Considerations for the Upper Klamath Lake Sub-Basin, Klamath County Oregon

Hydrologic Analysis and Restoration Considerations for the Upper Klamath Lake Sub-Basin, Klamath County Oregon

(2012)

Aquatic ecosystems in the Upper Klamath Basin (Upper Basin), Oregon are degraded as a result of more than a century of land use alterations due to logging, dams, irrigated agriculture, and cattle grazing. These changes have led to degraded habitat conditions including decreased baseflow, loss of vegetation, increased stream temperature, fish impediments, and nutrient loading. All these factors negatively impact watershed function and resident fish populations, which have experienced severe declines in recent decades. The primary threats to fish populations include habitat loss, degraded water quality, barriers and entrainment, and predation and competition from non-native species. Millions of dollars have been spent since the late-1900’s to restore aquatic habitat in the Upper Basin primarily to improve the distribution and abundance of endangered and threatened fish species. This project details the hydrologic characteristics of three primary tributaries in the Upper Klamath Lake Sub-Basin including Sevenmile Creek, Wood River, and the Williamson River (including spring tributaries). Available discharge data was assembled to plot seasonal fluctuations in flows and identify annual peak flow at different re-occurrence intervals. Stream systems in the UKL Sub-Basin show a range of hydrologic inflow due to groundwater and/or snow-melt run-off. Characteristics of spring-fed vs. run-off dominated stream systems are reviewed and recommendations are made for how to address restoration practices considering the hydrologic and geomorphic characteristics of stream channels.

Cover page of Evaluating a protocol to avoid fish stranding in the Russian River Watershed

Evaluating a protocol to avoid fish stranding in the Russian River Watershed

(2011)

The simultaneous withdrawal of water from streams for springtime frost protection of grapevines in the Russian River basin can coincide with the emergence of salmonid fry and the rearing of juveniles. These water diversions have contributed to water level declines, which in some instances, have resulted in the stranding mortality of fish. Endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout can become stranded when water levels decrease abruptly and fish seek refuge in the rapidly dewatering gravel.

In response to this issue, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed a site-specific method to determine minimum flows to protect salmonids from these effects. This method seeks to identify “high risk” stranding surfaces and determine the stream stage at which they become exposed. In this study, we evaluated the ability of the NMFS protocol to accurately prescribe protective stages. To do this, we analyzed three components of the protocol: its stranding risk classification system, it’s sampling of stranding surfaces and its method of establishing protective stage recommendations.

We evaluated the risk classification system by comparing it to published literature values on salmonid stranding. We assessed the sampling of stranding surfaces by performing the protocol at two sites. NMFS developed the method based on data from a medium-sized drainage (12.6 mi2), so we selected a small drainage (4.6 mi2) and a large drainage (50.2 mi2) to evaluate how effectively the method characterized the variation in potential stranding surfaces in different watershed settings. We evaluated the protocol’s protective stage recommendation by comparing the protective stage from our two surveyed sites to stream stage data for the season of regulation. 

Our assessment has led us to make several recommendations. First, the risk classification system would benefit from consideration of other factors influencing stranding risk and should adjust stranding risk thresholds to better fit the literature. Also, the protocol is weak in its ability to capture within-site variation. We therefore recommend increased sampling of stream reaches and scaled mapping of each site to better define stranding surfaces. These measures should result in improved protective stage recommendations but further studies may be necessary. With these changes, we believe that the NMFS protocol will be an effective tool for protecting fish from being stranded due to vineyard use of water during frost events in the Russian River Watershed.

Cover page of Types of Student Engagement and Commitment to Stream Stewardship: Strawberry Creek on University of California at Berkeley Campus

Types of Student Engagement and Commitment to Stream Stewardship: Strawberry Creek on University of California at Berkeley Campus

(2011)

Our study attempts to assess how different methods of engaging student volunteers on Berkeley’s campus impact student’s enthusiasm for stewardship, such as their willingness to participate in future on or off-campus restoration projects.  Using a questionnaire and targeting four different undergraduate student groups, including students who lived adjacent to Strawberry Creek, we attempted to gauge their current involvement and future involvement in stream restoration activities.  We found that academic work is the strongest method of engaging student volunteers and that some form of spontaneous use is the best indicator of each student’s enthusiasm for future stewardship. In summary, student stewards can provide the link between academic solutions and collaborative engagement with urban creeks.

Cover page of Post-Project Assessment of the 2003 Cerrito Creek Restoration and Recommendations for Additional Stormwater Management

Post-Project Assessment of the 2003 Cerrito Creek Restoration and Recommendations for Additional Stormwater Management

(2011)

ABSTRACT

A 700-foot-long daylighted reach of Cerrito Creek defines the southern border of the 29-acre El Cerrito Plaza shopping center and receives a majority of the Plaza’s stormwater runoff. In 2003, this reach, between Talbot and Kains Avenues, underwent a restoration project that widened, re-graded and re-vegetated the channel as well as added a gravel pedestrian path parallel to the stream. The project was completed while the shopping center and parking lot underwent a major renovation. In this study, we assessed current creek conditions and compared them to the original project design as well as a 2005 post-project assessment. We found that there may have been minor channel incision since 2005, but this evidence was unreliable due to the cross section locations having not been permanently monumented. An increase in the number  of gravel bars, and an increase in the diversity of sediment size indicated that the stream was transporting sediment. Native vegetation planted during the restoration appeared to be flourishing, although we documented a few invasive species that have established as well. Although the creek restoration was successful at creating wildlife habitat and a new amenity for the public, it did not address the treatment of stormwater, raising concerns about the impacts of potentially harmful urban runoff on creek water quality. We considered options to retrofit stormwater management infrastructure and concluded that flow-through biofiltration structures such as sand filters, basins, or planters would be most feasible based on the local soil conditions and available land area.

Cover page of Effects of a livestock exclosure on channel morphology and vegetation along Long Creek in Lake County, Oregon

Effects of a livestock exclosure on channel morphology and vegetation along Long Creek in Lake County, Oregon

(2011)

Livestock grazing in the western United States has lead to riparian ecosystem and stream channel degradation. Establishing fenced-off exclosures is a common management strategy that aims to passively restore these areas, however, relatively few studies have assessed the evolution of exclosed reaches over time. We evaluated temporal trends in channel form and riparian vegetation along a 4.2 km reach of Long Creek (drainage area of 180 km2), a tributary to Sycan Marsh in western Lake County, Oregon. The Nature Conservancy implemented reduced livestock grazing along this reach in 1996 and complete exclosure in 1999. Based on previous studies that documented vegetation establishment and subsequent sediment accumulation on channel banks, we hypothesized that the channel would have narrowed and vegetation would have re-established after eleven years of cattle exclosure.   In October 2011, we surveyed seven previously-established cross sections and compared channel geometry in 2011 to surveys conducted since 1990. We also took photos at these locations and compared them to historical images. We found no consistent trend in channel morphology, but two cross sections demonstrated narrowing, one of which was likely driven by reduced flow velocity from a downstream beaver dam. Vegetation had successfully established along the streambanks, but in addition to the riparian species, upland lodgepole pines were also abundant along the channel and on the floodplain.  Our results suggest that beavers should be encouraged so their dams will increase overbank flow and discourage the invasion of upland plant species. We also propose improvements in monitoring methods to ensure repeatability of cross-sections over an extended monitoring period.