2020 UMSRS Poster Presentations

Following are the 2020 UMSRS Posters.  Links to posters are provided as possible. 

Congratulations to Hannah Behar from the University of Minnesota Duluth for winning this year's student poster competition (Poster P-07)


P-01: Regionalization of the SQT for Minnesota and Development of the St. Paul District Stream Mitigation Procedures
Leslie Day, April Marcangeli, Marie Kopka, Andrew Chambers, Desiree Morningstar, Rebecca Graser, US Army Corps of Engineers

In September 2019, the St. Paul District Regulatory Branch (District)  announced the release of version 1.0 of the Minnesota Stream Quantification Tool and Debit Calculator. These tools are now available for use in Minnesota. With District approval and direction, they may be used in Wisconsin also. The District also announced the availability of its draft outline of stream mitigation procedures for the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin including a draft threshold for when stream mitigation may be required. This poster would share information on the implementation of the MNSQT and ongoing development of District stream mitigation procedures.

P-02: Plastics in erosion prevention & sediment control practices.   Has the Band-Aid become worse than the wound?
Peter Leete
, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Sediment, when originating from construction activities is considered a pollutant. However not all sediment is bad, as sediment is also an important component of natural geomorphic processes of our streams and rivers. A goal of designers and regulators is to prevent erosion within a construction site and control sediment from being added to our waters by implementing Best Management Practices (BMP). Many of these BMP devices include synthetic elements such as synthetic fibers (plastics), polymers, plasticizers, and dyes.  Has anyone considered how much is being put out here?  These products are not a natural component of any streams ecology. Are there unintended consequences of these products? At what point do they themselves become a pollutant? What is the eventual fate of these components as they degrade and are carried off site? What initially may be ‘good’ for erosion prevention and sediment control may later become ‘bad’ for animals and other ecological concerns. This poster highlights the need to balance erosion prevention & sediment control products from doing more ecological harm than the pollutant they are designed to prevent.   One such solution is to utilize alternatives that do not contain synthetic components to begin with.

P-03 (student): Development of regional curves for Iowa’s river restoration toolbox
Brady Nahkala,
Peter Moore, Iowa State University; Nate Hoogeveen, Iowa DNR

Hydraulic geometry relationships have been established to estimate bankfull channel dimensions. These relationships inform channel geometry within watershed and streamflow models. This data uses drainage area as a predictor of cross-sectional area, bankfull width, bankfull depth, and longitudinal slope. Most frequently, these curves are developed at a regional scale to account for variation among geographic contexts. However, not all regions of the United States have large databases of geomorphic data to establish appropriate regional curves at a smaller scale. For example, stream restoration practitioners in Iowa frequently use the Minnesotan regional curves. There is evidence that supports the development of a unique regional curve within the state of Iowa.

This project reports preliminary regional curves for the state of Iowa and makes some comparisons to the Minnesotan regional curves. Data has been collected from a variety of sources across the eastern two-thirds of the state, with more data expected within the next year. These new curves generated for Iowa may be used in the River Restoration Toolbox design guides in the short term while a more robust dataset is collected and validated. This will ultimately improve modeling and design project accuracy when considering stream discharge and natural channel design across the state of Iowa.

P-04: Lessons Learned in Stream and River Construction
Tom Tilkens, Applied Ecological Services

Throughout the Midwest, the need for stream and river restorations has been climbing to protect watersheds against extreme storm events, to restore habitat, and to improve failing and outdated infrastructure.  Since the 1980s, Applied Ecological Services has been working on the design and construction of stream restorations varying in complexity and scale. Throughout that period many lessons have been learned on how to best manage the construction of these challenging and unique projects. The key takeaways learned over the past years have been to understand site conditions and how water interacts with work areas, to choose the proper timing for starting project tasks, and to select the right types of equipment for the tasks at hand. A failure to understand such concepts will lead to unexpected risks such as permit compliance issues, project delays, and project failures.

P-05 (student): A comparison of lidar visualization techniques to aid in automated feature detection
Charles Nixon, Jr.,
Stephanie Day, North Dakota State Unviersity

Many different techniques exist to visualize lidar data in GIS, and each can be used to highlight different characteristics of features of interest.  This study investigates several of these techniques as part of an overarching project aimed at determining which one or group of techniques has the greatest benefit to automated feature detection.  A combination of ArcGIS and SAGA were used to generate the images for comparison.  Each program contains functions that make certain visualization techniques easier to apply to lidar data.   These visualization techniques have been applied to sections of lidar data being used in a study of landslides in Minnesota.  In this study, we are attempting to develop an inventory of landslides and employ automated feature detection to quickly and repeatably extract the landslides as features in GIS data.  The visualization methods in the poster can each serve to highlight specific characteristics about the features of interest.  Several images of landslides taken from the overarching project’s data are shown using these various visualization methods.  These images serve to demonstrate the different characteristics that are highlighted by each visualization technique.  In developing a reliable automated algorithm to extract features from a dataset, these visualization techniques will be applied to the data and the results compared to determine which enables the computer to extract features with the most accuracy and precision. 

P-06 (student): Spanning the channel: Not all logjams are created equal
Bridget Livers
, Iowa State University; Ellen Wohl, Colorado State University

Large wood (LW, > 10 cm in diameter and 1 m in length), and specifically wood aggregated into logjams, creates diverse physical and ecological effects in stream channels, such as increases in sediment and particulate organic material (POM) storage, hyporheic exchange, aquatic habitat, channel-floodplain connectivity, and multithread planform. Logjams, like all instream wood, have become much less abundant as a result of human alteration of wood budgets. Changes in land cover have reduced the extent of forests globally and reduced wood recruitment to streams. As a result, natural resource managers have for decades undervalued the importance of LW as an influence on stream ecosystems. Proactive wood restoration includes the use of engineered logjams (ELJs) emplaced for specific purposes, such as creating fish habitat. ELJs commonly are more porous and permeable than naturally occurring logjams and typically do not span the entire channel width. There is a dearth of detailed descriptions, however, of the location, structure, and geomorphic and ecological functions of naturally occurring logjams. We evaluated logjams in unaltered, second- to third-order subalpine streams of the Southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado to explore in detail the spatial distribution, size, and the capacity of these logjams to retain water, sediment, and POM. Stream reaches were followed continuously, and every logjam (n=183) had the following measurements: GPS location, logjam dimensions and porosity, every LW piece measured and categorized by position, backwater pool volume, and POM volume both in logjams and backwater pools. The dataset includes streams in both old- and younger-growth forests, confined to unconfined valley segments, and single and multithread planforms. Approximately 44% of logjams were channel-spanning, and channel-spanning jams were found in all categorical scenarios listed above. Compared to non-channel-spanning logjams, channel-spanning logjams have significantly greater wood piece sizes, distribution of piece sizes, and volumes, as well as greater total pool volumes and POM storage in pools and logjams. The results suggest that logjams can have a strong ecological impact even in stream segments that may not be considered as having high ecological potential (e.g. confined stream channels), and that non-channel-spanning logjams may not create effective retention in small stream channels. This work is relevant to stream rehabilitation or management projects in any region that use ELJs, or manage instream LW, to promote or enhance stream ecosystems.

P-07 (student): Stream Thermal Dynamics: The Influence Of Beaver Dams In A Northern Minnesota Watershed
Hannah Behar
, Emma Burgeson, Salli Dymond, Karen Gran, Rebecca Teasley, University of Minnesota Duluth

Beaver dams are known to alter the thermal regime of ponds, streams, and adjacent subsurface waters. Downstream of a dam, stream temperature is influenced by increased exchange with the hyporheic zone, which may cool and buffer the stream’s diel temperature cycles. Concurrently, reduced shading in the beaver forage zone is likely to increase heat flux at the stream-atmosphere boundary. The dynamics of these processes can be analyzed to understand how stream temperature is affected on diel and seasonal timescales, as well as longitudinally at distances downstream from the dam. At two beaver dam-impacted stream sites in the Knife River watershed in Minnesota, I monitored in-stream and shallow subsurface flow and temperature during low-flow summer conditions. I also used a dye tracer test, vertical heat transport modelling, and hydraulic gradient measurements to estimate flux through the streambed at multiple locations. Topography, surficial geology, and climate data were also collected throughout the summer from the two sites. A 1D model of longitudinal stream temperature, calibrated to in-stream temperature measurements, is being developed to determine which physical parameters have the greatest influence on stream temperature. The model can be used to demonstrate how these changes persist downstream, as well as how parameters influencing stream temperature vary over the course of the summer. Findings from this research will increase scientific understanding of temperature regime in beaver dam-altered streams, and may be used to support management practices in the Knife River watershed.

P-08: Restoring Functional Habitats with Altered Hydrology in Elm Creek and Mill Pond
Luke Lunde, Laura Cummings, WSB

The Mill Pond Dam on Elm Creek in Champlin, Minnesota was originally constructed in 1936 to power a flour mill. In city-wide surveys in 2007 and 2012 residents of the City of Champlin indicated strong public support for improvements to Mill Pond and Elm Creek, which are focal points of the residential neighborhoods protected from flooding by the presence of the dam. The City of Champlin incorporated these comments into the multi-phase, multi-year plan for the redesign of the dam and the restoration of Mill Pond and Elm Creek. Eighty years after its installation the dam was reconstructed as part of a five-phase improvement project meant to improve the safety of the dam and the habitat diversity and water quality of Mill Pond and Elm Creek.

To date the City of Champlin has completed habitat and stream restoration work on over 5,200 feet of Elm Creek as well as restoring the Mill Pond and replacing the dam. This presentation will discuss the achievement of specific management objectives related to fisheries, sediment, and vegetation in the Mill Pond and Elm Creek via oxbow reconnection, buffer implementation, habitat reconstruction, and dam design and management. The presentation will also discuss how resident requests, public meetings, and feedback from city-wide surveys shaped the project from defining project goals to the details of final design.

P-09 (student): Effects of Tile Drainage on Restored Oxbows as Habitat for Endangered Topeka Shiners and other Biota
Samuel Leberg, Dylan Osterhaus, Timothy Stewart, Clay Pierce, Iowa State University

Until recently, oxbow wetland restoration in Iowa and southwestern Minnesota focused on providing critical habitat for the federally endangered Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka) and other species of greatest conservation need (SGCN).  By intercepting water and nutrients flowing off highly-modified agricultural Midwestern USA landscapes, these ecosystems can also reduce downstream flooding and improve water quality. Oxbows designed to intercept tile drainage were recently approved by the Science Advisory Team of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center as a nutrient reduction practice.  An overarching goal of my study is to assess the effectiveness of tiled oxbow wetlands in providing habitat to diverse taxa, including plants, invertebrates, and fishes. To accomplish this goal, biological surveys were conducted in 12 oxbows (6 tiled and 6 non-tiled) during the summer of 2019. We measured relative species abundances of fish, invertebrates, and plants and recorded data for 19 environmental characteristics. We found Topeka shiners in 4 tiled and 3 non-tiled oxbows with species abundances of 161 and 167 individuals respectively. I will present preliminary data on Topeka shiner abundance, large-bodied macroinvertebrate diversity, and plant cover density in tiled and non-tiled oxbows. As we conduct a second field season and continue to analyze our data we will be able to assess if tile-fed oxbows are less able to support Topeka shiners and other taxa than those without inputs from tile drainage.

P-10: A sediment bypass technology for next generation hydropower
Jeffrey Marr, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota; William Forsmark, Barr Engineering Co.

This poster provides a summary of a newly funded R&D project focused on a technology to provide continuous sand bypass at new stream-reach developments for low-head hydropower. The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is motivated by a desire to expand low carbon energy sources and to do so, in part, by developing environmentally-friendly hydropower solutions for existing and new dams. Current hydropower facilities create barriers that prevent the natural sediment transport of river systems. These impacts affect both upstream and downstream conditions and include changes to stream morphology, deposition of sediment, water quality, erosion, degradation of river channels, and loss of habitat/connectivity for aquatic organisms. In addition to environmental impacts, reservoir sedimentation can reduce the water volume and head available for power generation, cause unanticipated maintenance issues, and in some cases compromise dam safety leading to failures. The technology we are developing is based on an approach defined as “hydrosuction”, which uses siphon flow to pass sediment through the dam structure. This system will incorporate several unique mechanisms: 1) submerged vanes/grids placed in the river bed in strategic locations will “steer” sediment towards the siphon inlets; 2) siphon inlets will be used to capture and transport coarse, bedload and fine, suspended material out of the reservoir; 3) the natural head difference across the dam will provide the necessary flow to transport the sediment passively with a siphon – no additional pumps will be needed. The project will be carried out by the University of Minnesota with partners including Barr Engineering, Voigt Consultants, and Utah State University.

P-11: Watershed Scale Assessment of Kingsbury Creek Sediment Sources
Jessica Olson, Rebecca Eiden, Barr Engineering Co.

Kingsbury Creek flows through multiple landscapes from its headwaters north of the city of Proctor, Minnesota, through Duluth, Minnesota, into the St. Louis River at Kingsbury Bay.  The watershed includes wetland-dominated broad valleys near the headwaters, channelized segments, transition zones with steepening slopes and bedrock-dominated features, to a low gradient depositional zone.

In June 2019 the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources tasked Barr with determining the primary sources of excess sediment within the Kingsbury Creek watershed.  Barr developed a multi-phase approach to quickly evaluate more than 11 miles of channel and potential sediment sources within the 8.9 square mile watershed. The evaluation began with a desktop review of existing data available for the watershed, including previously-completed studies of the creek and publicly-available GIS data. Guided by the findings of the desktop review, Barr staff used a rapid field assessment method adapted from multiple assessment techniques to verify findings from the desktop review. The adapted rapid assessment method identified problem indicators, future implications, and applied relative severity ratings to sediment sources identified within the watershed.  Stream segments with relatively high severity were re-visited to complete more detailed field investigation, including geomorphic surveys and bank stability assessments.

In addition to identifying a number of in-stream bank erosion areas, Barr’s team found that portions of the surrounding watershed also contribute excess sediment to Kingsbury Creek.  Barr developed conceptual recommendations to reduce the volume of sediment contribution from the most significant sources, as well as a feasibility index to help decision-makers prioritize projects for funding and implementation.

P-12: Bluff erosion in northeastern Minnesota: how much and how can we measure it?
Karen Gran, Sara Kelly, Elizabeth Brown; University of Minnesota Duluth

High bluffs that line rivers in northeastern Minnesota are a primary source of fine sediment to the river, contributing to high turbidity and suspended sediment loads.  Over the past decade, many bluffs have been stabilized using a toewood bankfull bench approach.  Because much of the sediment collects on the newly-constructed bench, we have the opportunity to track how much erosion and deposition are occurring at these sites over time.  From 2016-2018, we collected high-resolution topographic data using a terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) and photogrammetry data using a low-flying drone to document geomorphic change on stabilized and naturally-eroding bluffs in Amity Creek and the Knife River in northeastern Minnesota.  Volumetric change was compared using both bluff normal, rotated, and floodplain normal directions.  TLS data comparisons show that stabilized bluffs are generally retreating at a slower rate than naturally-eroding bluffs, although calculated rates of change vary with the direction in which change is measured. Comparisons between TLS data and topographic data generated using Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry provide information on benefits, drawbacks, and best practices of each method for continued bluff monitoring. 

P-13: Sand Creek Bluff and Ravine Erosion Mitigation Projects
Maren Hancock, Inter-Fluve, Inc.; Ryan Holzer, Scott County

In Scott County, the Sand Creek flows through a bluff zone created by the remnant valley walls of glacial River Warren, and discharges to the Minnesota River. This bluff zone consists of sharp breaks in slope from low-gradient upland farm lands to steep sandy clay hillsides dropping to the elevation of the Minnesota River floodplain.  Previous studies have determined that the bluffs and ravines in this area contribute a disproportionate volume of sediment to the Minnesota River as compared to farm field streambanks. In order to improve the stream habitat impairment, meet water quality standards, and meet TMDL goals for the Minnesota River, Scott County has been working to address sediment loading in many ways, including through the implementation of capital improvement projects that target reducing sediment sourced from bluff and ravine erosion.  This presentation will discuss how a watershed-wide assessment was completed to prioritize project locations and how the County engaged landowners to initiate project planning and design. These projects target erosion reduction through the construction of engineered large wood toe protection and deflector structures placed at the bluff toes to redirect the high velocity vectors, resulting in aggradation of sediment between structures and shifting of the centerline of the creek away from the bluff toe. The site assessment, design progression, and construction will be discussed for two of these projects completed in 2017 and 2018, and a status update will be provided for a third project currently in construction and two projects completed in 2012.

P-14 (student): Experimental investigation of river ice dynamics in sinuous channels
Zachary Phillips, Stephanie Day, North Dakota State University

Rivers that freeze during the winter erode and transport significant portions of their annual total load during the spring thaw. The erosive effect of mobile river ice’s interactions with banks during ice floes is not well understood because ice floes are usually combined with spring flooding. Ice-bank interactions during mobile ice floe are capable of rafting bank sediments, destabilizing restoration efforts, damaging infrastructure, and contributing to the process of meandering. This research utilizes physical experiments to investigate the erosional effects of mobile river ice in absence of spring floods. We use a 4’ x 7’ stream table filled with 4” of sand, video recordings, Structure from Motion (SFM) photogrammetry, and GIS to map locations of ice-bank interactions and determine bank erosion in pre-formed channels of varying sinuosity. Experiments were conducted using paraffin wax to simulate river ice, scaling ice block/paraffin wax size to observations conducted on the Buffalo River (MN). Erosion volumes were calculated at five-minute increments, with three initial periods of stabilization and one period of continuous ice addition. Results generally show that more sinuous channels experience more frequent bank-ice interactions, interactions are most common on outer banks of meander bends, and sediment dislodged by ice-bank interactions is not always transported downstream. These results have important implications toward restoration efforts in cases where channels are being restored to meandering patterns and apply bank treatments on the outer banks of meander bends.

P-15 (student): Experiments on bank erosion in meandering channels
Eleanor Arpin, Jessica Kozarek, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota

Stream bank erosion impacts the water quality of downstream lakes and rivers, aquatic organism health, and the integrity of bridges and other structures. Experiments were conducted in the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) Outdoor Stream Lab (OSL) to examine stream bank erosion in meandering channels. The goal of these experiments was to quantify stream bank erosion in relation to the complex local velocity field and the location of the bank along a meander. The OSL is a unique field-scale experimental stream with meanders and a mobile sand stream bed. Both the water flow rate and the sediment feed rate into the OSL can be controlled. The OSL has a data collection carriage with the ability to precisely scan the water surface, stream bed, and stream banks.  Experiments were carried out at five different locations along a single meander of the experimental stream at bankfull flow (approximately 284 L/s). Synthetic experimental stream banks with the approximate dimensions of 55 cm by 70 cm by 2.5 cm thick were constructed from a uniform mixture of 90% sand, 10% bentonite clay, and 15% water on a mass basis. Synthetic stream banks were designed to create measurable erosion over the experimental flood, and to provide material consistency across experiments. For each trial, a bank was placed against the OSL bank and the stream was flooded at approximately 284 liters per second for 3.75 hours. The experimental banks were scanned before and after the experiment and a near-bank velocity profile was measured during the flood. This poster will present experimental results including erosion as a function of the local flow field, and the erosion patterns along a single meander. This high resolution dataset will be used to validate high resolution computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling of river morphodynamics.

P-16 (student): Landslides in Northeast Minnesota: Inventory Mapping and Susceptibility Assessment
Emilie Richard, Derek Dahly, Karen Gran, University of Minnesota Duluth; Andy J. Breckenridge, University of Wisconsin Superior; Stephen B. Delong, US Geological Survey, Whitney Delong, University of Minnesota; Zachary Engle, U.S. Geological Survey; Carrie Jennings, Freshwater Society; Andy Wickert, University of Minnesota

Landslides and other mass-wasting processes such as streambank failure are common geomorphic events in the steep post-glacial landscapes of Minnesota. They can impair water quality, damage infrastructure, and pose risks to human life. This research focuses on the assessment of slope instability across northeast Minnesota as part of a larger collaborative state-wide landslide inventory and susceptibility mapping project. We used Google Earth imagery and repeat aerial lidar data to identify and map historical slope failures at a scale of 1:3,000, excluding features less than 2 meters tall. Much of the mapping of historical events focused on a record storm event in June 2012 during which 20-25 centimeters of rainfall occurred over 48 hours, causing extensive flooding and triggering numerous mass-wasting events. Field reconnaissance confirmed remotely mapped locations of landslides and identified active unstable slopes. We used open-source statistical software to conduct logistic regression analyses of slope instability factors including slope angle, roughness, distance to stream, depth to bedrock, and material composition.

Slope failures are concentrated in thicker glacial sediments along river valleys and the Lake Superior shoreline. These are driven by hydrologic factors such as channel incision, toe-cutting, lateral migration, sapping, and wave action. Slope failures are more frequent in areas containing glacial-lake deposits that were destabilized in response to the 2012 flood. Head scarps initially triggered by the flood in these areas continue to propagate upslope seven years later. Uphill facing scarp features and undulating hummocky topography provide evidence of past movement that may contribute to poor drainage and saturation of modern slopes.

This landslide inventory and susceptibility analysis will allow stakeholders and decision-makers to reduce the risks from future landslides.