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Connecting People and Urban Streams
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Faith Fitzpatrick: I’m Faith Fitzpatrick- I work at the

U.S. Geological Survey with a team of scientists

studying the effects of urbanization on stream ecosystems,

in this video we’ll look at how urban development alters

the habitat or physical features where creatures live in or near the streams.

Habit is made up of four basic things; Water, shelter, food

and space. Flowing water is important to provide habitats

and food for all sorts of creatures. Healthy streams typically

have a range of flows that change through the seasons.

Healthy stream habitats have a diversity of water velocity

and depth combinations and geomorphic features. Such as,

shallow rapids and deep pools and many bends and curves.

Boulders and logs in the stream and grass and shrubs

along its banks offer protection during floods and provide

food and cover from predators. It’s not just the stream that

provides habitat for fish, but how the stream is connected

to the land and low-lying areas along its banks. Low areas

right next to the stream help alleviate flooding and also help

provide shelter, refuge and food for amphibians, insects, reptiles and birds.

In urban watersheds run-off from roads, parking lots and

rooftops and the addition of storm sewers cause more

frequent and erosive flows because less rainfall is soaked

in to the ground. Storm flow acts like a fire hose that

scours streambeds and banks and destroys and unravels

the physical features that aquatic creatures call home.

Sand, silt and clay from bare soils at construction sites,

smother gravel riffles, clog channels and fill in pools.

Fine sediment can accumulate contaminates in

nutrients and is a real problem in streams with gentle

slopes. As streams are lined with cement, go underground

or are altered by dams or road-crossings, the connections

among habitats are lost, limiting the movement of fish and other organisms.

Vegetation along an urban stream is frequently over run by

aggressive, invasive plants. Most invasive plants start

out in people’s gardens, but they easily spread to banks,

flood plains and wetlands where they crowd out native

plants. As people connect with their streams, watershed

volunteer groups connect with regional planning commissions,

sewerage districts and city planners and engineers to

improve the livability of urban stream corridors for both wildlife and humans.

Jeff Martinka: So you have more power than you think

because a lot of us don’t make time to let our voices be heard.

Faith Fitzpatrick: The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage

District has been able to speed up its goal of removing or

redesigning cement lined channels that block fish passage.

These rehabilitation projects are reconnecting habitats

and also improving aesthetics and safety for people

while maintaining flood control. Because of the importance

of preserving salmon and other species on the

endangered species list habitat improvement and protection

in the Portland, Oregon area is first and foremost in

rehabilitation projects. Large logs are used in many of

the rehabilitation projects to provide shelter and resting

places for fish and other creatures. The protection of

Chesapeake Bay has brought together a diverse group

of water resources planners and managers, as well as

engineers, ecologists and landscape architects. They’ve

been using sand seepage systems, base flow channels

and plants to filter storm water. These techniques reduce

runoff, peak storm flows, bank erosion and gullying

while improving infiltration, water quality and habitat.

An important part of rehabilitation projects is measuring

success. Monitoring flow, water quality, habit and

biological characteristics before, during and after rehabilitation

activities are especially critical for projects where there

is a high risk to infrastructure or endangered species.

For urban streams hope for habitat is all about connections,

reconnecting the continuum of habitats that streams

provide from their head water to mouths, reconnecting

streams to flood plains and wetlands and most importantly,

reconnecting people with each other and their streams.

Thanks for your interest in our study of the urbanization

effects on stream ecosystems, conducted as part of the

National Water-Quality Assessment Program of the

U.S. Geological Survey. Please visit our website

for more information about the study and also access to our data and our reports.

Connecting People and Urban Streams--Faith Fitzpatrick (USGS)

Speakers’ Names



Title: Connecting People and Urban Streams

Faith Fitzpatrick (U.S. Geological Survey) outlines the importance of habitat to the health of streams and shows examples of connecting people to urban streams through rehabilitation efforts across the USA. (5 minute version)

Location: NC, MD, WI, OR, USA
Date Taken: 5/11/2011
Length: 5:50
Video Producer/Videographer: Douglas A. Harned (National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA), USGS, North Carolina Water Science Center, Raleigh. NC)
Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video.
Additional Video Credits:

Faith Fitzpatrick: Scriptwriter, Narrator, Scientist Consultant

Gerard McMahon: Producer

Douglas Harned: Producer, Video, Editor

Alan Cressler: Video

Luke McMahon: Video

Brian Pointer: Video

Amanda Bell: Video

Steve Sobieszczk: Video

Michelle Moorman: Video

Erik Staub: Video

Luke Myers: Video

Ray Douglas Audio

Jeff Martinka (Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, Inc.)

File Details:

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Tags: AquaticEcology Baltimore DouglasHarned EUSE Ecosystems FaithFitzpatrick Habitat Hydrology Maryland Milwaukee NAWQA Oregon Portland StreamRehabilitation StreamRestoration USGS Urbanization WaterQuality WaterResourceManagement Wisconsin


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