Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011TN79B

An Evaluation of Floodplain Forest Land Use Dynamics, Ecosystem Services and Conservation Policies in West Tennessee Watersheds

Institute: Tennessee
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2014-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $53,350 Total Non-Federal Funds: $106,879

Principal Investigators: Donald Hodges, Christopher Bridges

Abstract: Floodplain forests and wetlands provide a number of significant aquatic ecosystem services to society, including stormwater pollution control, flood mitigation, and the provision of fish and wildlife habitat. Channelization of several west Tennessee river systems and resulting deforestation of floodplains throughout the twentieth century has drastically altered both the distribution of forests and supply of ecosystem services throughout the region. While the changes in floodplain management systems have likely been influenced by a number of different policies, regulations and market forces, no previous study has explored the evolution of West Tennessee river conservation strategies in conjunction with land use change. Given increased focus by agencies and stakeholders on the restoration of river functions, it is important to expand scientific understanding of floodplain forest values, land use changes and potential management solutions. Therefore, this study seeks to develop a better understanding of the policies that have influenced West Tennessee floodplains, the types of ecological changes that have occurred, and evaluate possible restoration alternatives for areas associated with the West Tennessee Tributaries Project. Through a review of documents developed pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act and related statutes, existing geospatial data sources, historic land cover data, and published ecosystem service values, this study will evaluate floodplain management policies of the past, and potential ecosystem restoration alternatives. Study findings will aid in the development of floodplain and river restoration policies in the Southeast, and will help to guide watershed management planning to restore ecosystem services in degraded river systems throughout the world.