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Monday, February 6 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Symposia Session - S3: Ecology of the Missouri National Recreational River. Sixty Years of Geomorphic Change and Ecological Restoration Challenges on Two Unchannelized Reaches of the Missouri River

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AUTHORS: Caroline M. Elliott, Robert B. Jacobson, Edward Bulliner - U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT: The Missouri National Recreational River is a National Park Service unit that includes two Missouri River segments that despite considerable alterations to hydrology, retain some aspects of channel complexity similar to conditions present in the pre-dam Missouri River. Complexity has been lost through the construction of large reservoirs on the Missouri River and the channelization of the 1,200 kilometers of river. We present an analysis from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cross-section data spanning 60 years on 63-km long inter-reservoir segment below Fort Randall Dam and a 95-km segment below Gavins Point Dam. Our analysis quantifies geomorphic adjustment and resultant changes in habitat diversity since 1955. In the inter-reservoir segment, sedimentation at the confluence of the Niobrara River has created a transition zone from free-flowing river, to delta, to reservoir; this transition is moving upstream as sedimentation progresses. The delta ecosystem provides wetland habitat and recreational areas for fishing and hunting, yet sedimentation threatens infrastructure and reservoir storage. In both reaches, relatively high-elevation bare sandbars are used for nesting by the endangered least tern (Sternula antillarum) and the threatened piping plover (Charadrius melodus). Two large flood events, in 1997 and 2011, have created the bulk of new sandbar nesting habitat on these river segments. Sandbars erode and vegetate between flood events, and in recent decades vegetation removal and costly mechanical sandbar construction have been used to maintain bare nesting sandbar habitat. Management decisions in the segment downstream from Gavins Point Dam include evaluating tradeoffs between maintaining sandbar habitat for nesting and allowing some sandbars to undergo natural cottonwood regeneration. Understanding habitat diversity and variability since dam closure and placing the effects of extreme floods during a larger historical context encompassing the entire post-dam period, and will aid management agencies in restoration decisions on these two segments of the Missouri River.

Monday February 6, 2017 1:40pm - 2:00pm CST
Grand Ballroom A

Attendees (5)