Riparian Corridor Change in a Northeastern Kansas Watershed
- Landscape Journal: design, planning, and management of the land
- University of Wisconsin Press
- Volume 35, Number 1, 2016
- pp. 57-77
- Additional Information
Riparian corridors in the Black Vermillion watershed in northeastern Kansas have experienced severe degradation since the 1857 Kansas Territory Survey. Through documentation of riparian vegetation and adjacent land cover changes, we sought to analyze the correlating change in riparian corridor widths and vegetation structure from 1857 through 2007. We examined changes in corridor conditions over time to provide baseline data to guide stream and riparian ecosystem rehabilitation. The 1857 survey provided a baseline for reference conditions in relation to corridor width and woody species present. Overall woody riparian corridor width decreased throughout the watershed from 1857 until approximately 1956. Subsequent to 1956, the corridor width decreased dramatically, a period characterized by extensive stream channelization. During this channelization period, the total stream length was shortened by 25.4Km (from 114.7 Km to 89.3 Km). Woody riparian corridor composition changed from established, discontinuous gallery forests and prairie lined headwater streams to early successional stage vegetation and tillage crops. Upland land cover changed from native, tallgrass prairie to cultivated cropland or pasture. Over 80% of the riparian corridors were lost, while more than 90% of adjacent land cover changed. Change documentation is important for any discussion related to future landscape rehabilitation, riparian/watershed conditions and qualities, as well as land management.