Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011AR294B

Increasing awareness for water quality protection: Stream restoration through temporary and permanent animal access restrictions

Institute: Arkansas
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $10,634 Total Non-Federal Funds: $37,001

Principal Investigators: Dirk Philipp, Kelly Bryant

Abstract: The increased awareness of protecting water quality in Arkansas and elsewhere has resulted in various research projects addressing the efficacy of best-management practices (BMPs) applicable to beef production. However, livestock producers are skeptical about the validity and effectiveness of measures suitable to protect stream channel integrity. This is in part due to a lack of information and knowledge among landowners that more sophisticated BMPs, which only temporarily exclude cattle from streams, result in good water quality protection without an excess burden on the producer. To demonstrate such BMPs, a stream restoration site was established between 2009 and 2010 consisting of 1) fencing one side of the stream; 2) fencing both sides of the stream and infrequent flash-grazing within the fenced area; 3) fencing both sides of the stream and establishing trees and shrubs within the fenced area. In addition, one area of the stream was left unprotected (Control). The stream selected for this project transects several pastures used for livestock research at the Southwest Research and Extension Center at the University of Arkansas-Monticello. Each treatment has been marked with four transect reference points to study long-term changes in vegetation, water quality, and soil parameters. The stream restoration site offers numerous opportunities for student involvement which will be an integral part of this project. As the next-generation livestock producers and landowners, undergraduates enrolled in the UAM School of Agriculture have the opportunity to visit the study site multiple times during spring and fall semesters and participate in data collection in a hands-on fashion. Samples for soil analyses will be collected once during the project year and analyzed for extractable nutrients, bulk density, particle size distribution, and organic C, aggregate stability, and root length density. Vegetation assessment will occur twice during the project year along the established transects in each treatment. Water quality monitoring will occur at six locations. Composite water samples will be collected from 7 high flow rain events and complemented with 10 biweekly low flow/base flow samples. This project is also well positioned to demonstrate BMPs to producers during field days and give area K-12 schools opportunities for science projects.