Quantifying Stream-Aquifer Interactions through the Analysis of Remotely Sensed Thermographic Profiles and In Situ Temperature Histories

Quantifying Stream-Aquifer Interactions through the Analysis of Remotely Sensed Thermographic Profiles and In Situ Temperature Histories
A quantification of the spatial patterns of groundwater discharge to a 1.7 km reach of Cottonwood Creek in Plumas National Forest. Quantification of base flow and hyporheic exchange on stream temperatures by simulating stream energy budget under different conceptual models of the stream-aquifer interaction. The Big Flat Meadow restoration project was designed to restore a section of Cottonwood Creek, a small stream in Northeastern Plumas County. Big Flat Meadow is located in the Cottonwood Creek watershed two and a half miles upstream from the confluence with Last Chance Creek which drains into Indian Creek, a tributary to the East Branch North Fork Feather River (EBNFFR). The site is on public land administered by the Plumas National Forest in Northeastern California near Honey Lake, approximately 60 miles Northwest of Reno, Nevada and 25 miles South-west of Susanville, California.

This project moved Cottonwood Creek from its old down cut channel into 4,050 feet of new channel constructed on top of Big Flat Meadow. It was the first project to utilize the 'pond and plug' restoration technique in California. Cottonwood Creek flows on USFS managed land into Indian Creek by way of Last Chance Creek. The old channel had down cut 15 feet and was de-watering the 47 acre Big Flat meadow, allowing invasion of sagebrush species. The abandoned gully was filled or converted into a series of ponds to create wildlife habitat. Monitoring of ground water wells and surface flows have been ongoing since 1994. Sponsored by the USFS and carried out by Plumas Corporation with funding of $30,000 from the USFS, $10,000 from PG&E, $70,000 from the SWRCB, and other funds from Ducks Unlimited, DWR, CDF&G, and the Milford Grazing Association for a total of $189,000. After continued post-project monitoring it was determined that the original channel design was oversized (one foot too deep). As a consequence, full re-watering of the meadow had not occurred. Gravels from the upper watershed had slowly been filling the channel, but not fast enough. In 2004, modification to the channel using locally available basalt gravel/cobble to fill the riffles to the correct elevation was completed. This allowed high surface flows to more readily access the floodplain. The project was funded by the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) PL106-393, Secure Rural Schools, Title II funds with contributions from the USFS-Plumas National Forest Watershed Program, with a total project budget of $12,000. This project was also part of a study done by Stanford University analyzing the relationship between surface and groundwater sources in restored versus degraded meadows using remote airborne infrared thermography from 2003-2005.
The agencies and individuals involved in the Feather River Coordinated Resource Management group (Coordinated Resource Management) worked cooperatively to address the watershed problems on Cottonwood Creek. They initiated the Big Flat Meadow re-watering project in order to restore Cottonwood Creek's original channel form into a stable narrow channel with meanders and a flood plain. The objectives of the project were to:

* Reduce the amount of sediment produced or downstream deposition and improve water quality,

* Restore spawning and rearing habitat for rainbow front by prolonging summer stream flows,

* Elevate meadow groundwater increasing production of moisture loving plants, and extending length of the season in which the stream is flowing, and

* Demonstrate an innovative stream restoration technology which can be applied to other degraded watersheds.

Coordinated Resource Management members hope that successful re-watering of the meadow will lengthen the season during which the creek flows. Increasing the meadow's water storage capability should allow stored up winter precipitation to release more slowly, allowing Cottonwood Creek to flow longer into the summer. This combined with reducing sediment deposition should improve fish habitat, increase the amount of moisture loving vegetation in the meadow increasing forage for wildlife and cattle.

To determine whether pond and plug stream restoration improves aquatic habitat by depressing maximum stream temperatures.
Begin Date
End Date
Originator Name
Steven Loeheide II, Stephen Gorelick
Ordering Information
Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 40 No 10
www.feather-river-Coordinated Resource Management.org/images/pdfs/loheide.pdf
Supplemental Information
www.feather-river-Coordinated Resource Management.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20&Itemid=19
Access Limitations
No Restrictions
Aquatic Habitat, Erosion, Geomorphology, Meadow Cottonwood Creek, Plumas National Forest, Pond And Plug, Restoration, Stream, Temperature
Limits on Use
No Restrictions
Update Frequency
As Needed
Resource Owner

To the owner of Quantifying Stream-Aquifer Interactions through the Analysis of Remotely Sensed Thermographic Profiles and In Situ Temperature Histories

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