Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011SC77B

The Influence of Legacy and Current Land Use on Stream Systems in teh South Carolina Piedmont

Institute: South Carolina
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $28,311 Total Non-Federal Funds: $73,442

Principal Investigators: Dennis Haney, Peter Van Den Hurk

Abstract: Land use, land cover, and land cover change are integral drivers for watershed processes, and have important impacts on the interrelated physical, chemical, and biological elements of stream ecosystems. Over the last decade, increasing attention has been given to the influence of urban lands on stream and watershed processes both within the US and around the globe. Furthermore, a number of recent studies have suggested that both current and historical effects of land use (i.e legacies) need to be considered to fully understand contemporary stream processes. The Piedmont region of SC provides excellent opportunities to study the legacies of past land use because the region has experiences extensive land cover changes over the past century. In particular, from 1880-1950 intensive cotton farming and associated deforestation resulted in widespread soil erosion and degradation. With the demise of cotton farming, much of the area began to reforest or was converted to pasture or row crops. In the past two decades, however, rapid urbanization has again transformed the landscape, particularly in the Greenville-Spartanburg area. Thus, certain characteristics of Piedmont streams may result not only from current land cover (e.g. forest, pasture, residential, commercial/industrial), but also reflect influences of antecedent cotton farming.