Environmental Management

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 35-48

First online:

Channel change, sediment transport, and fish habitat in a coastal stream: Effects of an extreme event

  • Robert CoatsAffiliated withCenter for Natural Resource Studies
  • , Laurel CollinsAffiliated withCenter for Natural Resource Studies
  • , Joan FlorsheimAffiliated withCenter for Natural Resource Studies
  • , Darrell KaufmanAffiliated withCenter for Natural Resource Studies

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A study on sediment transport and channel change was conducted on Zayante Creek and the lower San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz County, California. A rainstorm with a recurrence interval locally in excess of 150 years occurred during the study year, 1982 WY. Stream surveys indicated that significant aggradation occurred during and after the peak flood. Upper study reaches were substantially recovered after high flows of early April, but the lower study reaches still had significant filling of pools and burial of riffles by sand. Increases in width-depth ratio were minor and localized in upper reaches, but were significant in lower reaches. Large inputs of sand, primarily from landsliding, altered the sediment transport regime. A higher proportion of the bedload is now transported by lower flows than before the January event. Roads and sand quarries contributed significantly to sediment input to the stream. A proposed dam may alter the sediment transport regime of Zayante Creek. Mitigating the effects of this dam on downstream fish habitat may require occasional bankfull discharges.

Key words

Channel change Sediment transport Fish habitat Flood effects Geomorphic effectiveness