USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Pacific Southwest Research Station
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Application of the stream load reduction tool (SLRT) to quantify the project and reach scale water quality benefits of Upper Truckee River restoration efforts

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

Nicole Beck, 2NDNATURE, LLC
Catherine Riihimaki, Drew University


Many stream and meadow restoration projects have been implemented throughout the Tahoe Basin over the past two decades and a majority of these projects have included improved water quality as a restoration goal. However, an approach to report restoration effectiveness with respect to water quality improvements has not been defined nor have standardized methods been established to monitor and evaluate pre‐ and post‐restoration conditions to demonstrate these improvements over time. This lack of a reliable effectiveness evaluation impedes the ability for designers, funders and reviewers to communicate reliable water quality benefits of stream restoration efforts to regulators and policy makers. 2NDNATURE (2N) is currently completing the stream load reduction tool (SLRT), a standardized method to consistently estimate the average annual sediment load reductions as a result of stream environment zone (SEZ) restoration efforts (2N 2010a). These Round 12 SNPLMA research funds will be used to apply the SLRT methods to completed and planned restoration efforts on the Upper Truckee River (UTR) and Angora Creek by leveraging existing pre‐ and post‐restoration data, available from Lake Tahoe Interagency Monitoring Program (LTIMP) and other Tahoe Basin hydrologic and water quality research. Implementation of this research would provide a tangible broad scale application of the new SLRT to a number of completed SEZ restoration efforts with varying levels of available water quality and morphologic data, in addition to providing UTR restoration project proponents with quantitative estimates of the water quality benefits of their actions for use to obtain additional funding sources for monitoring, adaptive management, or future restoration projects.

Relation to Other Research Including SNPLMA Science Projects

The proposed research will significantly leverage and utilize a wide array of existing datasets, particularly the integrated geomorphic and water quality datasets compiled by the Upper Truckee River Watershed Advisory Group (UTRWAG), California Tahoe Conservancy (CTC), California State Parks and the USDA Forest Service-Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Pre‐ and post‐restoration observations and monitoring data collected on the completed Upper Truckee River projects will be synthesized and integrated to determine the state of our existing knowledge on stream restoration effectiveness of water quality improvement. Applying SLRT methodology to planned projects such as the Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Relocation Project by the California State Parks will be of immediate value. In addition, the proposed research will inform and/or build upon the following SNPLMA projects and Tahoe Basin efforts: Round 7, "Methodology to predict total and fine sediment load reductions as a result of channel restoration in Lake Tahoe streams," and  "Quantification and characterization of Trout Creek restoration effectiveness," (SNPLMA Round 7), "Tools to quantify urban stormwater load reduction from SEZ restoration actions," (SNPLMA Round 11), the Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), and the Lake Clarity Crediting Program. The SNPLMA-funded research efforts led by 2NDNATURE have been used to develop and refine rapid evaluation methods and low-cost event‐based sampling protocols to better understand and quantify fine sediment particle retention on SEZ floodplains. The SNPLMA Round 11 research included the application of the SLRT to the Trout Creek restoration project in order to refine and solidify the methodology used to characterize condition, evaluate effectiveness, and estimate preliminary fine sediment particle (FSP) load reductions achieved as a result of SEZ floodplain inundation. Trout Creek restoration, considered one of Tahoe Basin's most successful stream restorations, is now being used as a reference point for subsequent evaluations throughout the Tahoe Basin using the SLRT methodology.

Expected date of final products:

December 2013

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:08 PM