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Riparian Reconnect

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Project log

Mark Beardsley
added a research item
This study outlines a pragmatic professional-judgment assessment of the potential for using low-tech process-based restoration (LTPBR) approaches for restoring riverscapes with beavers in Park County, Colorado. The method allows professionals to apply knowledge and data from many sources in the evaluation of current beaver activity, capacity, limiting factors, and restoration potential to prioritize opportunities.
Mark Beardsley
added 2 research items
Stage-0 Restoration using light touch treatments and working with beavers.
The importance of biological drivers in stream restoration. Examples of process-based restoration on beaver-mediated streams in the Rocky Mountain headwaters.
Mark Beardsley
added 2 research items
Today's dominance of entrenched single-thread channels with dry, disconnected riparian zones Southern Rockies headwaters alluvial streams is at least partially due to widespread anthropogenic conversion from native beaver streams. The conversion is explained using Cluer and Thorne's 2013 Stream Evolution Model (SEM) as a shift from Stage 0 to Stage 1. In South Park, Colorado, we found that some Stage 1 streams incise further (Stages 3-5), while others become arrested in Stage 1 and may continue to degrade and lose function through a gradual process of straightening and widening. A restoration approach aimed at restoring Stage 0 by reversing the causes of degradation (reestablishing native riparian shrubs, beavers, and a highly-connected anastomosed planform) provides much more benefit and greater sustainability compared to stabilizing and enhancing entrenched channels using traditional natural channel design (NCD) methods.
Prior to human disturbance, many of Colorado's small alluvial headwaters streams were naturally anastomosed wooded beaver streams or broad grassy wet meadows best described as Stage 0 in Cluer's and Thorne's 2013 Stream Evolution Model. Restoring natural Stage 0 streams provides greater hydrological, ecological, and habitat benefits compared to stabilizing and enhancing entrenched Q2 channels as dictated by traditional natural channel design methods.