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Landscape Changes and Watershed Erosion in Prince George's County, Maryland
  • James Stribling
James Stribling
Tetra Tech Inc

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

This study evaluated erosion rates and sediment production in streams, and factors potentially influencing them throughout the Anacostia, Patuxent, and Potomac (non-Anacostia) River watersheds within Prince George’s County, Maryland, US. As part of the County’s watershed-scale biological monitoring program, from approx. 1999-2008, permanent monuments were established to allow measurement of stream channel cross-sectional (XS) area. The intent of this study was to characterize the intensity and spatial distribution of fluvial geomorphic instability across the county and use the results to target and plan stormwater management and stream restoration actions. For this study, 78 stream locations were re-surveyed in 2020, representing a time lapse of from 12-21 years. Data collected included XS dimensions, modified Wolman 100-particle pebble counts, and reach-specific soil bulk density. Land use/land cover data were compiled from the National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD), precipitation from the National Weather Service Center for Environmental Information (NCEI), and soils from the Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Survey (NRCS/WSS). We calculated percent change in XS area, rates of erosion, sediment yield, and assigned geomorphic classifications, and interpreted them in the context of spatial positions relative to changes in land cover characteristics. Sediment yields among the 78 reaches exhibited a combination of those undergoing degradation/erosion (67.9%), aggradation/deposition (25.6%), and the remaining 6.4% with essentially no change over the period of record. Of the top 20 most geomorphically active reaches surveyed in the County, 12 are in the Anacostia River basin, with the other scattered among the Patuxent River and Potomac River basins.