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Changes in Flood-Carrying Capacity of a Recently Restored Stream System

Luke Goodman

From 2016 to summer 2019, a portion of South Worrell Creek running through Ames, Iowa was transformed from an unmanaged stream system to a public eco-park named the Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor (TELC). Story County Conservation was the main entity in charge of the project; however, the land is located within the ISU Research Park and the city of Ames, meaning that the creation of TELC has been a collaborative effort between the city, university, county, and state. Although TELC has allowed these partners to showcase conservation techniques at the rural-urban interface as well as increase community-environment interaction, the main purpose was to restore the South Worrell Creek stream system within the 37 acres residing in the park boundaries. Prior to restoration, South Worrell Creek was highly degraded and had been overtaken by many invasive woody species that did not benefit the stream or wildlife. This stream restoration project, as well as stream restoration project at large, create major benefits for the ecosystem and the environment, but also for people in terms of public health and economic prosperity. Specifically, stream restoration can help increase water quality and decrease flooding while simultaneously increasing the quality of habitat for both terrestrial and aquatic species. Our research focuses on the flooding component, particularly how the creation of TELC affects the South Worrell Creek system’s flood-carrying capacity during flooding events.

Although results are still pending, we expect the restoration project to be successful in allowing the system to retain more water during flooding events. We hypothesize this because of visibly noticeable differences in the stream system observed while taking field measurements. The restoration project has increased the meandering of the stream, widened the channel, and expanded the floodplains allowing water to move more slowly through the system by increasing the area where water can go. The results of our study will aid in gauging the outcome of the restoration project and assist in determining if more work needs to be done to reach the desired outcomes.

Below are some images from the field work involved with this project, some beautiful shots of the Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor, and our poster.

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Funding Organization: University Translational Research Network (U-TuRN)

Duration: 12/11/2019

Principal Investigator(s): Peter MooreLaura MerrickKristie Franz