Bark River Monitoring Gully Restoration
Project Number: 9KO31
Project Chief: Faith A. Fitzpatrick
Project Topics: Gully erosion, restoration monitoring, episodic geomorphic change
Cooperators: University of Wisconsin
at Madison - Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Forest Ecology and Management Department and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Period of Project: 2005-2010
Snowmelt Flood in Vietmeier Creek
Streams that flow into Lake Superior from the Bayfield Peninsula of Wisconsin have very serious erosion and sedimentation problems due to their “steep” slopes [large relief], erodible, surficial material, and increased runoff from their watersheds. The increased volume and peak flows have resulted primarily from land clearing for agriculture and logging practices. In these streams the primary sediment sources are gully erosion, main stem incision, and bank and bluff erosion. The increased flood peaks and sand movement have reduced suitable spawning habitats for native and nonnative trout and salmon species, including brook trout. Amelioration of these problems requires implementation of effective land management and stream stabilization practices.
In August 2005, additional funds were obtained from the Great Lakes Commission and the Wisconsin DNR to study gully/ravine erosion and control techniques via upland infiltration, and land cover and channel structures in the Bark River (one of the five studied streams in the Bayfiled Tributary Study). The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is developing erosion-control techniques. The Forest Ecology and Management Department is studying upland infiltration/runoff related to forest cover and type.
Typical sand slug in Bayfield streams
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of in channel and on land methods to reduce sediment supply to and deposition on a brook trout spawning area of the Bark River, Bayfield Pennisula, WI.
- Utilize natural and/or artificial materials to create drop structures or steps at appropriate locations along the channel that reduce the slope, incision and erosion of the tributary and/or flow deflecting structures (e.g., barbs, vanes) and bank toe protecting structures in the channel to stabilize the channel and control lateral migration (meandering).
- Measure contributions of land cover and soil types to land runoff and alter micro topography to spread and detain land runoff to the channel.
- Before and after controls are implemented monitor channel conditions and accumulated sediment in a spawning area that is either in the main channel downstream of the junction of the treated tributary and the main channel or farther downstream in the treated tributary.
- Develop methods that are effective in reducing land runoff, reducing sediment impacts on stream spawning areas and downstream water quality, and stabilizing channel morphology.
As a first step this project will demonstrate the effectiveness of appropriate channel stabilization techniques on a tributary to the main stem of the Bark River in reducing the amount of sediment deposited on a downstream spawning area and relate this effectiveness to the land runoff from its forested watershed. Storm runoff modeling indicate that peak flows in forested watersheds are still 25 percent higher than peak flows prior to European settlement. Over the last 100 years, forests have been managed mainly for pulp production. In the mid 1990s, many headwater areas were clearcut to an extent comparable to the logging of the virgin forests. Local riparian residents reported that sediment-related problems on streams were worse following the logging. Dennis Pratt, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) fishery biologist and manager for this region, has reported that native and non-native fish habitats have been impacted from increased flood peaks, erosion, and sedimentation in these streams. This study is an extension of ongoing work (since 2000) on N. Fish Creek, where submerged vanes and other methods are being used at three sites along the upper main stem to stabilize 3 of the 17 high bluffs, which contribute approximately 2/3 of the sediment to downstream spawning areas.
Streamflow, sediment and channel change data have been collected.
Monitoring continues through September 2010.
Watershed Management Techniques for Brook Trout Habitat Improvement Poster (2.2 mb)