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Stream habitat provided by large wood at risk under drainage law

Version 3 2024-06-03, 16:37
Version 2 2024-05-27, 05:22
Version 1 2023-12-09, 01:14
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 16:37 authored by Gary A. Lamberti, Jillian B. Kenny, Michael A. Brueseke, Patrick D. Shirey
Watershed management efforts in agriculturally dominated landscapes of North America face nearly two centuries of laws and policies that encouraged habitat destruction. Although streams and wetlands in these landscapes are actively being restored using designs that incorporate science and engineering, watershed drainage laws can constrain action or impact passively restored or naturalized habitat. In general, drainage laws require removal of any riparian vegetation or wood deemed to obstruct flow in streams regulated as drains. We use a case study from Indiana (USA) to introduce the shortcomings of drainage laws for allowing large wood, which is an important habitat feature, to remain in stream ecosystems. Removals of large wood from monitored stream reaches in a regulated drain were associated with subsequent declines in fish biomass. Such legal activities represent an important environmental management problem that exists under drainage laws which apply to streams over a widespread geographic region of North America. Recent litigation in Wisconsin (USA) suggests that if state legislatures fail to update these antiquated laws, the courts may act in favour of science-based management of drains. The statutes and regulations that govern agricultural drainage warrant careful consideration if streams within drainage districts are to be managed to improve ecological function. (c) 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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