FHC and ETAL PhD student Nate Hough-Snee recently co-authored a paper in Ecological Engineering with Brett Roper(USFS), Joe Wheaton (USU FHC/ETAL), Phaedra Budy (USU/USGS) and Ryan Lokteff (USFS), on the trajectories of vegetation change at Spawn Creek in northern Utah from 2004 to 2009. Their findings showed that following grazing exclusion, riparian vegetation moved from rangeland grasses to wetland species but woody species like willow, were slow to recolonize Spawn Creek. This could be attributable to the long grazing history at the site or use of the area as winter range by moose and elk.
Hough-Snee attributes the paper's publication to successful partnerships between Utah State, the USDA Forest Service, state agencies and local anglers. "At Spawn Creek, we were very fortunate to capitalize on the vision of the local Forest Service office, the Utah Division of Wildlife and Cache Anglers (Trout Unlimited) to restore the stream. Monitoring conducted by the PACFISH/INFISH Biological Opinion and USU allowed us to effectively track the outcomes of the project. Revisiting the monitoring data allowed us to see that while there were positive effects of the restoration, the first four years did not lead to the full recovery of willows that we had hoped for." This is important because willows are key to stabilizing banks and providing shade that regulates high stream temperatures. Following years of intensive grazing, willows had been suppressed at Spawn Creek and the stream was in need of restoration to enhance crucial Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.
This collaboration between the FHC and USFS is one of several forthcoming research works from the FHC to use long-term monitoring data to make inference about the conditions within monitored streams across the American West. Eco Logical Research and the Ecogeomorphology & Topographic Analysis Laboratory work with NOAA's CHaMP program while the USFS Fish and Aquatic Ecology Unit's Brett Roper works closely with the PACFISH/INFISH Biological Opinion. Both monitoring groups have personnel working out of Logan and USU. "Having two of the largest stream monitoring groups in the American West right here in Logan and affiliated with USU is a wonderful resource," says Hough-Snee. "The potential for long-term collaborations on both groups' data in the Columbia Basin is enormous. This project at Spawn Creek was just the tip of the iceberg for the FHC and PIBO to work together." This paper follows another USFS-USU collaboration between Ryan Lokteff (USFS), Brett Roper (USFS), and Joe Wheaton (USU) on the movement of trout species through beaver dams at Spawn Creek.
Nate can be reached via email at: Nate (at) NateHough-Snee.org
Hough-Snee, N., B.B. Roper, J.M. Wheaton, P. Budy and R.L. Lokteff. 2013. Riparian vegetation communities change rapidly following passive restoration at a northern Utah stream. Ecological Engineering 58: 371-377. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2013.07.042
Originally posted Jul 31, 2013, 11:45 PM by Nate Hough-Snee