What Can Streams Teach Us?

What Can Streams Teach Us?

Greetings from Frederick, Maryland

Monocacy National Battlefield contains a number of streams and rivers that cross its landscape. My project this summer will focus on two sections of a single stream called Harding’s run. This river run is about 10, 560 feet (2-miles) long that is occasionally bordered by agricultural fields and a four-lane highway. My goal is to collect data on two, approximately 700 ft. long sections of the stream that will be used to assess the health of Harding’s run in relation to its surrounding landscape.

River health can be assessed in various ways. In this study, we will not focus on water quality such nitrate concentration, but rather how water shapes the river channel through transporting sediment. This is called fluvial geomorphology and both I and another intern, Olivia Boraiko, will be taking the physical measurements to assess these two stream segments. Physical measurements include channel width, river curvature, elevation changes, and sediment size to name a few.

The upstream portion of Harding’s run is closest to the highway and we will establish the study site this summer. Establishing a permanent reference site where surveyors can accurately replicate stream channel measurements over multiple years is vital to understanding how the stream is changing. In the next coming years, the highway near this section of the river is projected to widen and these surveys can justify restoration of these waterways if needed.

The downstream portion of Harding’s run was established in 2010 and this summer will be the third time this section has been surveyed. This dataset can be used to assess if agricultural areas are having an impact on sedimentation of the river channel. Overall, I look forward to working on this project this summer and to see what these data can tell us!

-Aubrie Heckel

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