Sediment Tracing and Stream Restoration Project

PROJECT TITLE: Sediment source tracking study using tracers

SPONSOR: Canaan Valley Institute & USDA-Agricultural Research Service

PROJECT DURATION: 1 June 2010 to 31 July 2012

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS: Kevin McGuire and Cully Hession (VT)

COLLABORATORS: Danny Welsch (CVI), Tony Buda (USDA), John Schmidt (USDA), Jim Anderson (WVU), Eugenia Pena-Yewtukhiw (WVU)

GRADUATE STUDENTS: Tyler Kreider, MS student

PROJECT SUMMARY: Stream restoration through the construction of in-stream structures, bank re-grading and vegetation planting, and fencing of riparian areas is occurring at an increasing rate throughout the mid-Atlantic highlands and Chesapeake Bay Watershed (CBW).  For example, past programs in the CBW have spent millions of dollars in planting many miles of riparian forests along streams within the CBW alone. Despite these riparian plantings, reductions in sedimentation have been difficult to quantify.  Stream restoration projects are expected to reduce sedimentation. However, tools to quantify sediment reduction especially to distinguish between bank and upland sediment loading are lacking.  This study will determine the relative contribution of bank versus upland sediment sources as well as from specific bank restoration treatments to total stream sediment flux through the use of rare earth element (REE) and cesium-137 tracers.  This work will inform the efficient utilization of restoration resources and help delineate sediment sources and quantify reduction from projects that are local in nature compared to the scale of downstream waterways such as the Chesapeake Bay.


Project management Scholar site (for project participants only)

Canaan Valley Institute

USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Laboratory

BSE Center for Watershed Studies


This work is supported in part by the Canaan Valley Institute through a grant provided by the USDA-ARS, Grant Number 59-1930-6-649. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.