To pay back my outstanding students loans I took a job in John Day,OR. I will be back in the Fall. I will be relatively inactive but not completely during this time.
My job position is a hydrology technician GS5 with the US Forestry Service.
Many streams in the Blue Mountains have degraded as well as the environment over time due to factors such as fire, poorly designed culverts, grazing, straightening of streams, etc.
The trouble in the Blue Mts. is that this area is home to some the largest wetlands per acre in the US, but the water isn't staying in the environment long enough.
Unstable streams can result in downcutting of the channel via increase of flow velocity. In a downcut scenario, bankfull (amount of water in a stream just below where it will flow out onto the floodplain) is trapped in the channel. This lowers the watertable because of the bankfull's loss of access to he floodplain. The disconnect between the watertable and the stream prevents land from holding water. After a channel deepens it will eventually hit bedrock and respond by widening in order to have enough room to accommodate the same amount of water moving through it. But, this can cause sediment to deposit, riparian vegetation (vegetation along rim of channels) is anchored, making a channel within a channel. A circumstance like this is can change the vegetative landscape due to a lower watertable. A widening channel eventually reduces the riparian sponge, thus lower dissolved oxygen levels, less room for fish to move around, and creates more surface area for evaporation.
Channels can also fix themselves with a little nurturing. Pointbars revegetate the floodplain to dissipate energy, floodplains with wood and rocks increase storage and provide fish habitat, secondary overflow channel have rocks and wood to catch spillover and allow water to slope back into the channel.
Good riparian zones have a rich variety of tress and habitat, litter (leaves, etc), traps sediment needed for spawning, and spongy soil has good underground root mass.
Some of the ways to fix riparian zones are removing dominating plants, removing competing vegetation to provide more water and sun for younger trees, deer browsing limitations near younger growth.
The name of the game is to keep the water held in the environment longer.