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Buffalo National River Disturbed Lands

Bank instability along the Buffalo River ranges from natural erosion to mass wasting of streambanks along the river's corridor. In 1994, the Buffalo National River began a project to stabilize eroding streambanks and riparian areas (trees and shrubs along the bank and flood plain) disturbed by agricultural clearing prior to the establishment of the park. Fourteen streambank restoration sites totaling 5,763 feet in length were mitigated using cedar revetments and other bioengineering techniques. This project also recorded 29 riparian zones, totaling nearly 12 miles in length, which needed buffer protection and reforestation. Native tree seedlings were planted in these areas (nearly 60 acres) to try to slow the erosion process. In 2000, the staff of Buffalo National River revisited the stabilization sites to assess overall performance of the 1994 stabilization efforts, and the results ranged from complete failure of the stabilization structures to sites of great success. Seventy five percent of the 5,763 feet of eroding banks were successfully stabilized, and 85% of the riparian zones planted with native seedlings were producing a healthy mid-successional growth. Results from a general aquatic community assessment around the stabilized sites found that sites with only slight improvements in stability exhibited increases in macroinvertebrate diversity, suggesting that any direct efforts to stabilize banks can have a positive effect upon the aquatic community.

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