To Restore Or Not To Restore: Assessing Pre-Project Conditions Of A Habitat Restoration Project On The New River, North Carolina

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kristan Cockerill Ph.D., Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Despite continued emphasis on restoring streams to improve ecological function, there remains a dearth of data documenting pre-restoration conditions to clearly establish a need for restoration. Without establishing a clear, data- driven need for restoration, it is difficult to determine which restoration measures will be most effective. The study reported here offers a pre-project evaluation of a restoration on a headwaters stream in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with project sponsors, and reviewed the project environmental assessment and construction plans. Additionally, the authors evaluated available data, including benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages, fish communities, riverbed coarse particle size, and ambient water quality. Primary goals for the restoration project include halting erosion and improving aquatic habitat. The data that were used to justify the restoration and develop the environmental assessment and project plan, however, present temporal and spatial issues that may preclude effective evaluation of the need for the project and conducting valid post-project assessments.Available data reveal that current conditions are quite good and potentially do not warrant ecological restoration measures. Over a longer temporal scale, this project may be limited in the ability to improve conditions or prevent degradation because of concentrated anthropogenic activities occurring upstream within the watershed as well as adjacent to the restored reach.

Additional Information

Swinson, B., et al. (2015). "To Restore or Not to Restore: Assessing Pre-project Conditions of a Habitat Restoration Project on the New River, North Carolina." Environmental Processes 2(4): 647-668. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2015
stream restoration, River management, Benthic macroinvertebrate, Fish community, Water quality

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