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Influence of two woody riparian species on critical conditions for streambank stability: Upper Truckee River, California

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION, Volume 42, Issue 1, p.99-113 (2006)

Abstract:

Over the past 35 years, a trend of decreasing water clarity has been documented in Lake Tahoe, attributable in part to the delivery of fine grained sediment emanating from upland and channel erosion. A recent study showed that the Upper Truckee River is the single largest contributor of sediment to Lake Tahoe, with a large proportion of the sediment load emanating from streambanks. This study combines field data with numerical modeling to identity the critical conditions for bank stability along an unstable reach of the Upper Truckee River, California. Bank failures occur during winter and spring months, brought on by repeated basal melting of snow packs and rain-on-snow events. Field studies of young lodgepole pines and Lemmon's willow were used to quantity the mechanical, hydrologic, and net effects of riparian vegetation on streambank stability. Lemmon's willow provided an order of magnitude more root reinforcement (5.5 kPa) than the lodgepole pines (0.5 kPa); the hydrologic effects of the species varied spatially and temporally and generally were of a smaller magnitude than the mechanical effects. Overall, Lemmon's willow provided a significant increase in bank strength, reducing the frequency of bank failures and delivery of fine grained sediment to the study reach of the Upper Truckee River.