Friday, August 20, 2010

Sagehen restoration workshop highlights.


I'm back from a stream restoration workshop at the Sagehen Creek Field Station in California. Lily was a student and TA, and we both taught using an Emriver model.

The Station's run by Jeff Brown; his wife Faerthen works there too. It's a magical research/teaching site with ~8,000 acres in the Sierra  about 20 miles north of Tahoe.  From the website:
The roughly 8,000 acre Sagehen Creek watershed includes yellow pine, mixed conifer, and red fir forests, brushfields, scattered mountain meadows and fens. Deep snow is typical of the winter season, and dry, warm weather is typical of the summer period. Sagehen Creek is about 8 miles long, extending eastward from near the crest of the Sierra to Stampede Reservoir on the Little Truckee River.

Matt Kondolf and Peter Wilcock talked about river management; Peter has been doing some cool management-oriented work on sediment transport. We also heard from local scientists and consultants, and Sarah Kupferberg (from Mary Power's lab at UC Berkeley) gave captivating talks on stream inverts and geomorphology.

We looked at the very intersting Pliestocene geomorph along the Truckee River through Reno--crazy stratigraphy left behind from ice dam breakups in Tahoe and Pyramid Lake. And a river that doesn't lend itself to simple management solutions.

And also river-driven water park in Reno. I was impressed. A lot of clever hydraulics, politics, financing, and people management made this inner city park something unique. Here you see Jim Litchfield of Fluid Concepts, the main designer/driving force behind this. He's made some very impressive Trompe-l'Oeil hydraulics--big, surfable standing waves designed so even little kids can safely play in them.

Here's Lily on the Truckee in Reno.

I met two incredible young students. Kristen Podolak , who's finishing her PhD (and working on waterparks like this one) was the workshop's workhorse. Ricardo Sousa, from Portugal (and fresh off the plane, still jet lagged), who's starting a doctorate at Berkeley. Here you see Kristen and Ricardo discussing drawings he made of the Reno site.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Emriver model outreach in Alaska.

The  Bureau of Land Management's Glen Allen, Alaska field office has been using our Em2 model for outreach.  Here are a few photos.

The young man teaching is Luke Ringger, a high school student who has a gift for working with younger kids, who look up to him because he's not "old."

These made my very happy.  Thanks to Marnie Graham, Matthew Vos, and others at BLM for capturing/sending them.

The last photo shows Tim Sundlov (hand on bucket), who arranged to buy the Em2, in my favorite setting for our models--next to a river, running on a small battery.  As designed.

We're working hard in this economy to pursue our river model labor of love, and news like this keeps us going.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lily Hwang graduates.

Our Ecohydrologist  C. Lily Hwang graduates from SIUC today.  She earns an MS in Forestry, with honors (as usual.)  Lily joined us back in May.

Speaking for the rest of LRRD, my wife Kate, and I'm sure a lot of other people:  Lily, you're awesome. 

Here she is yesterday, testing pumps and piping design for our new Em2.

Congratulations Lily!  We're glad to work with you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Geomorphically incorrect Art #4.

Kids, not only is the art incorrect, but the advice is, too.

From an old issue of Boy's Life.  Maybe those kids at top reduced the slope of  eroding bank by hand, but I doubt it. 

Willow cuttings only work if you first fix the underlying cause, which in this case is likely over grazing.  Which, unlike more natural meander migration, would leave this outside bend bank with a moderate slope (and with a bunch of hoof prints and dung piles, not pictured, thus the incorrectness).  A well built and maintained barbed wire fence would be the prerequisite here, but I don't see one.

And what bad advice we have next.  Armoring a stream's banks with its bed material.  The stream put those rocks there in the last big flood.  It'll move them again, especially if, like Tony Hawk, they're poised at the top of a ramp, having been given some extra potential energy by well-meaning 1960's Boy Scouts.

Believe it or not, this method is widespread in America's gravel bed streams, at least where it's quasi legal or the law isn't enforced.  The result is always the same, and in fact our last consulting work involved a survey of the aftermath of a project like this.  Only that one was done with lots of Diesel fuel, not barefoot Boy Scouts.

To discourage this sort of thing we modeled the typical stream response in this video.

Disclaimer:  I was a Boy Scout in the 1960's.