Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 59, Issue 8, pp 1681–1692 | Cite as

Assessment of channel dynamics, in-stream structures and post-project channel adjustments in North Carolina and its implications to effective stream restoration

  • Jerry R. MillerEmail author
  • R. Craig Kochel
Original Article


Site assessment and monitoring data were analyzed for 26 stream restoration projects in North Carolina where the channel was reconfigured. Post-project changes in channel capacity were highly variable from site to site, but more than 60% of the projects underwent, on average at a given site, at least a 20% change in channel capacity. An analysis of site and basin geomorphology revealed that large post-construction adjustments were associated with highly dynamic stream channels characterized by a combination of high sediment transport capacity, large sediment supply, and/or easily eroded bank materials. In-stream structures along dynamic, reconfigured channels also exhibited high incidences of damage. Thus, the design and construction of channels in a state of equilibrium, which do not exhibit excessive erosion or deposition along highly dynamic rivers is currently problematic. In light of these findings, a conceptual framework based on geomorphic parameters is put forth to assess the likelihood of project success early in the design process to (1) eliminate high risk sites from consideration of channel reconfiguration and (2) improve upon the implemented management strategies that are ultimately used. It is also argued that where space permits an enhanced natural channel, adjustment approach is likely to be more effective than projects based on natural channel design.


River restoration Fluvial geomorphology Channel adjustment Site screening 



This project was funded by a grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund under Project Number 2002B-805. Without their support this project would not have been possible. A large number of students aided in the collection and manipulation of data for this investigation, and their efforts are greatly appreciated. They include Heather Gregory, Adam Hunter, Benjamin Jackson, Patrick Jarrett, David Huffstetler, Nate Irwin, and Michelle Pederson. We are also indebted to Jessica Jaynes, who possessed the organizing skills and work ethic to convert a pile of documents into a functioning database. Thanks also are due to Chris Tennant for countless hours of manipulating monitoring records, Eric Neff for host of activities, including the analysis of database and hydrologic records, and Gary Nottis for his work with GIS and basin morphometry.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Watershed Research and ManagementWestern Carolina UniversityCullowheeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geology and Environmental CenterBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA

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