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Legacy deposits, milldams, water quality, and environmental change in the Four Mile Creek watershed, southwestern Ohio

By
Jason A. Rech
Jason A. Rech
Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
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Bartosz Grudzinski
Bartosz Grudzinski
Department of Geography, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
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William H. Renwick
William H. Renwick
Department of Geography, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
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Christina N. Tenison*
Christina N. Tenison*
Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
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Marvi Jojola#
Marvi Jojola#
Department of Geography, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
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Michael J. Vanni
Michael J. Vanni
Department of Biology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
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T. Race Workman
T. Race Workman
Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA
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Published:
December 10, 2018
Publication history
18 August 2018

ABSTRACT

Streams in the Midwest of the United States have experienced major changes in their watersheds since European settlement that have altered sediment loads, runoff, nutrient concentrations, and the abundance of woody debris. Moreover, the near extirpation of keystone species such as beaver, and the construction of dams and impoundments (e.g., milldams, causeways, reservoirs, small ponds, etc.), have had impacts on the entrainment of sediments, the connectivity between tributaries, main channels, and floodplains, and channel form. As stream restoration efforts increase, how do we restore streams to their ‘natural’ state? Can streams restored to a pre–European settlement condition maintain equilibrium under current land use? Here we examine the impact of post-European settlement changes to a small (432 km2) watershed in southwestern Ohio that is largely representative of rural watersheds in the Midwest. We examine the impact of nineteenth-century milldams, report the results of a 21-year study of nutrient and sediment concentrations in the upper portion of the watershed during a shift from conventional to conservation tillage, and assess the potential impact of the return of beavers on stream sediment and nutrient concentrations. Our objective is to understand how streams have been impacted by humans over the past 250 years, and to identify strategies for ‘restoring’ streams in the Midwest.

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GSA Special Papers

Ancient Oceans, Orogenic Uplifts, and Glacial Ice: Geologic Crossroads in America’s Heartland

Lee J. Florea
Lee J. Florea
Indiana Geological and Water Survey Indiana University 611 N. Walnut Grove Avenue Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
51
ISBN electronic:
9780813756516
Publication date:
December 10, 2018

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