2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


LORD, Mark1, ALLMENDINGER, Nicholas E.2, WATERS-TORMEY, Cheryl2, CALDWELL, Erik2 and YURKOVICH, Steven2, (1)Geosciences and Natural Resources, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, (2)Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources Management, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, yurkovich@wcu.edu

An on-campus stream restoration project provides a unique opportunity to directly involve students enrolled in introductory geology courses in field research. The restoration objectives are to stabilize stream banks, to establish riffles and pools via in-stream structures, and to increase the vegetative riparian zone on a 1.5 km reach of Cullowhee Creek through the Western Carolina University campus.

Over 400 liberal studies students per semester will collect and analyze stream data to evaluate the effectiveness of the stream enhancement. Fundamental elements of the project design include (1) an easily accessible research site, (2) monitoring of processes that occur over the time-scale of an academic year, and (3) flexible data collection and analysis methods that can involve a large number of students. Our educational objectives are to involve liberal studies students in applied research that will reinforce concepts learned in the classroom, to illustrate the role of science and society, and to generate a lasting interest in science.

The project design is simple yet provides credible data for student analysis. The design is also flexible so instructors can incorporate the project into their courses differently. Students measure channel form, characterize bed sediment, and describe the channel banks and floodplains at 90 monumented cross-sections along the study reach. Through an established web page, students have access to existing data, allowing them to monitor changes through time. In addition to course materials such as field instructions and data sheets, the web page also includes maps of the restoration plans, pre-restoration maps and aerial photographs, and links to other sites with information about stream restoration techniques and projects. Pre-restoration data were collected by spring 2005 students. Restoration began during this past summer while collection and evaluation of post-restoration data began this fall and will continue for several years.

Future plans include upgrading the web database to allow easier access to existing information and to formally evaluating the project to determine if the overarching educational objectives are being met. Anecdotal feedback from students is positive as indicated by interest, understanding, and quality of work produced.