Oregon State University professor and IMW investigator, John Selker, and his students are using state-of-the-art temperature monitoring techniques on restoration properties in the Middle Fork John Day River. From August 1-8, 2013, a section of river on the Warm Springs Tribes’ Oxbow Conservation Area was monitored using a large-scale DTS (distributed temperature sensing) installation. The DTS installation consisted of fiber optic cables placed in the thalweg (deepest part of the riverbed) through which high-resolution temperature data was recorded at precise temporal and spatial scales.
Preliminary results from DTS temperature monitoring on the Oxbow Conservation Area reveal an observable sustained drop in stream temperature downstream of the Granite Boulder Creek redirection and stream channel reconstruction restoration area. This temperature drop was apparent throughout the day, although it was most pronounced during peak midday stream temperatures
The following figure shows the change in watertemperature over time and distance for a section of the Middle Fork John Day River on the Oxbow Conservation Area.
When Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWSRO) staff member, Kristen Coles, went to retrieve a temperature logger in Ruby Creek last fall, she discovered it trapped under a layer of ice. Rather than trying to use a pick-ax to retrieve the logger, and risk damage, Kristen decided to wait until spring. Near the end of March, as Kristen returned to Ruby Creek to recover the logger from the now unfrozen creek, she observed a pair of Sandhill cranes on the Forrest
Conservation Area property. Sandhill cranes are Oregon’s tallest bird, and they breed in southeast, south central, central and northeast Oregon. While not uncommon in the John Day, it was a rare treat to observe them.
In addition, since the logger remained in the water until spring, the IMW now has a full winter’s worth of temperature data for Ruby Creek.
As part of several habitat restoration projects within the IMW, large pieces of wood have been placed in the river channel and floodplain. These wood placements are designed to create fish habitat by capturing spawning gravels, creating pools, and by providing cover where fish can hide and rest. IMW researchers from the University of Oregon are studying these large wood structures using an innovative remote sensing technique.
Patricia McDowell and her students are creating digital elevation models of the river substrate where these large wood structures have been added. Every few years they return to the same sites and do detailed topographic surveys of the channel bed and banks around each log structure. By comparing the digital elevation models from different years, they detect channel erosion and aggradation, shifts in bank structure, depths of pools, and development of gravel bars.
This research has been underway since 2008. Data collected in 2013 is currently being analyzed. After several years of measuring the same sites they will be able to determine the effectiveness of large wood placement for restoring fish habitat.
More information about this research can be found in the following presentation: “Monitoring Effectiveness of Log Structures” given by Patricia McDowell at the 2012 River Restoration Northwest Symposium
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