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Tuesday, January 30 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
RIVERS & OXBOWS: Oxbow Restorations in Iowa: A Compilation of Data and Lessons Learned over the past 17 Years

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AUTHORS. Aleshia Kenney, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ABSTRACT. Prior to European settlement and widespread land use change, the prairie streams of Iowa naturally meandered, creating cut-offs of the outside loops of the main stream. These loops became U-shaped oxbow ponds that were reconnected to the stream during high-flow events. They remained hydraulically-connected to the alluvial aquifer and sustained adequate water even during dry summers. Warmer groundwater also prevented winter freeze-out. These oxbows provided habitat for many species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fishes, including the now endangered Topeka shiner (Notropis topeka). Anthropomorphic practices on the landscape have altered stream hydrology and hastened the disconnection of oxbows from the adjacent streams. Once abundant, these oxbows have slowly filled with sediment, disconnecting them from the alluvial aquifer. Fish still find these oxbows during high flow events, only to die in the summer when they dry up or in the winter when they freeze through. Overall, this type of habitat has been greatly degraded or eliminated. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Illinois-Iowa Ecological Services Field Office began restoring oxbows in north-west Iowa in 2001 with over 70 oxbows now restored.  This program has fostered many partnerships over the years, with goals and priorities changing as new restoration opportunities developed.  I will present on some lessons learned about oxbow restorations, results of fish surveys (species and abundance), bird surveys, and water quality data.  I will also present on strategies for effective implementation and funding for this conservation strategy.  

Tuesday January 30, 2018 1:40pm - 2:00pm CST