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Icon for: Kristen Pitts

KRISTEN PITTS

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Abstract

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Development of an interdisciplinary, team-based watershed management plan for the Cache River, IL

The centerpiece of the interdisciplinary, team-based IGERT training in watershed science and policy is a collaborative project to produce a viable and flexible management plan for the Cache River Basin in southernmost Illinois. The Cache River Basin contains a unique and diverse wetland ecosystem with over 100 state threatened and endangered species. Over the last century, agricultural activities including channelization, ditch-building and tile drainage have threatened the Cache River ecosystems and led to the destruction of wetlands, erosion and sedimentation problems, altered channel geomorphology and habitat fragmentation. Great interest in this unique area has resulted in numerous restoration efforts focused on reversing the impacts associated with human alterations of the watershed. While great strides have been made in land conservation, decision makers in the region tend to view restoration projects as conflicting with agricultural drainage needs partly due to limited understanding of restoration benefits. This plan will identify gaps in knowledge and provide quantitative data to inform decision making processes in relation to management of the watershed.