Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014IN370B

Reconnection of floodplain lakes in the Patoka River watershed: habitat and fish assemblages

Institute: Indiana
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $30,000

Principal Investigators: Mark Pyron

Abstract: Floodplain habitats are essential for ecosystem functioning in lowland rivers. These habitats are maintained by predictable connection with mainstem rivers. One possible method for restoring natural variability in river and stream flows and water surface elevations in floodplain features (oxbows, secondary channels, etc.) would be to physically remove or modify existing levees and other barriers. Reconnecting fragmented stream, reservoir, and off-river habitats allows access to historic spawning, nursery and rearing grounds along the Patoka River near Winslow IN. Funds for preliminary data collection are necessary to qualify for other grant requirements. The preliminary data includes a bathymetric map of the Patoka River (and the dredged Houchin Ditch), habitat details for floodplain lakes in the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge including substrate size, water depth, water quality (pH, DO, temperature, water clarity, conductivity), and fish assemblages of the river and lakes. Results of this project include submission of a proposal to the USFWS fish passage program in Oct 2014 to fund reconnection of floodplain lakes in the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge. The USFWS fish passage proposal will require 1) a flood inundation map of the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge to identify locations with modified flooding; 2) identification of potential off-channel habitats where reconnection would allow regular flooding; 3) field sampling to identify potential floodplain lakes and the mainstem Patoka River.