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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  701P0904,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.17424)
Authors:   Phil G. Balch and Brock A. Emmert
Keywords:   stabilization, riparian restoration, habitat restoration, stream restoration, sediment reduction

The Little Blue River flows through the eastern portion of Washington County, Kansas, and has a drainage basin of approximately 3,500 square miles. In late 1999, three landowners along the river contacted the Washington County Conservation District and the District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) regarding severe streambank erosion on their properties. The District Conservationist requested assistance from the Kansas State Conservation Commission (SCC). During their preliminary site visits, SCC staff determined that several stream reaches were severely over widened by excessive bank erosion, and the river had become bedload driven. Measurements of aerial photographs show a total cropland loss of 369 acres along 8.2 miles of river between 1977 and 2001. This resulted in a dry weight sediment input of 12,565,298 tons or approximately 502,611 semi-truck loads. Soil analysis showed that nutrient content of the eroded streambank soils equaled 92,270 pounds of nitrate (NO3), 839,271 pounds of phosphorous (P), and 6,959,856 pounds of potassium (K). Bendway weirs were chosen as the primary structure for stabilization because of their ability to: help reduce width/depth ratios, reduce water velocities in the near bank region, induce sediment deposition, and maintain cost effectiveness. Additional project goals included re-establishing a riparian corridor and improving aquatic habitat. In early 2000, SCC, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff began conducting total station surveys of problem sites. The initial 20 project surveys, maps, and designs were developed by SCC staff and reviewed by David Derrick, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterway Experiment Station, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The project currently involves 29 project sites on 8.2 miles of the river. Project construction began in November 2001 and was completed with the final tree planting in April 2004. This project stabilized 8.2 miles of eroding streambanks, established 110 acres of riparian habitat, resulted in the planting over 70,000 trees and shrubs, and will reduce 546,317 tons of sediment to the river annually.

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