Stream Restoration and Monitoring
The Hunnicutt Creek is an important asset to Clemson University that holds most of the water that drains from the road ways and parking lots located around campus. It is important that we maintain a healthy stream system, therefore the hunnicutt research team is activily trying to maintain a healthy system by restoring the riparian zone. A riparian zone is the surrounding area of a stream bank that acts as a buffer from chemicals and other harmful elements that could degrade the quality of a stream. One way that we are restoring the riparian zone is by removing invasive species of plants (see the Invasive Species tab). While the riparian zone is being restored, we are monitering the quality of the stream in multiple ways. Once a month, the hunnicutt research team collects information from multiple significant locations along the stream and enter them into the SCAAS website. We are also currently working on setting out instruments that will collects data such as: velocity, depth, and other physical measurements. We also occationally go out in the field and survey cross-sections of the creek to see how the stream bank has changed over time. We hope that this will help us better understand how the hunnicutt creek is reacting to the restoration as well as major rain events and human impacts.
South Carolina Adopt-A-Stream
South Carolina Adopt-A-Stream (SCAAS) is a volunteer-based monitoring program that has branched from the original Georgia Adopt-A-Stream. The program’s five goals are summarized by ADOPT: increase public Awareness, collect quality baseline water quality Data, gather Observations, encourage Partnerships between citizens and their local government, and provide citizens with the Tools and Training to evaluate and protect their local waterways. SCAAS emphasizes research regarding chemical qualities (pH, temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen), bacteria (E.coli), macroinvertebrates, and amphibians. We have implemented these SCAAS protocols into our adaptive management plan and are monitoring the stream and adjacent wetland for both chemical and biological factors. These factors will be monitored monthly with the results uploaded to the SCAAS website to form a documented data set. The data collected from these surveys help us to determine overall water quality and stream health for not only the restoration site, but for the Hunnicutt Creek watershed as a whole. To learn more about this program, visit Clemson's webpage.
Identifying and counting aquatic macroinvertebrates reveals the ecological integrity of a habitat and reflects the synergistic effects of the environmental conditions. Certain species are more sensitive to pollution than others, so the presence or absence of a population provides insight on overall stream quality. A D-frame net was used to sample a variety of habitats, including woody debris with leaf packs, the vegetative bank margin, and the stream bed. The species collected at Hunnicutt Creek indicate that the majority are only somewhat sensitive to pollution while most of the macroinvertebrates of the reference site are sensitive. A change in the species composition of Hunnicutt is expected in the future as the site improves.
Amphibian monitoring has been established in the restored sections of Hunnicutt Creek and around the wetland to discover the species richness. A reference site has been determined in the North Forest, which serves as a model for the wetland’s progress. Coverboards and PVC pipe have been installed throughout the stream restoration. The coverboards are 1’X1’X1” boards that are put on the ground, intended to attract salamanders, snakes, and other animals avoiding the sun. The PVC pipes are designed to allow treefrogs to enter and feel safe from predators protecting them from almost every side. Both are placed next to the stream and the wetland to ensure a higher capture rate. Six stations are set up along the stream and wetland reach, with two PVC pipes and two coverboards at each station. Since the PVC pipes are only used by a few species of treefrogs, the team listens for frog calls in the evenings to more thoroughly detect all of the different frogs species present.
Propagation of Native Plant Species
During the restorative process, propagation is a technique used to introduce native plant species back into the restorative area. Native plant species include Paw Paw (Asimina), Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus), certain fern species, Spice Bush (Lindera), etc. There are a variety of methods that can be used to propagate plant species. The vegetative team for the creative inquiry used clippings and plantings of these clippings in the greenhouse to stimulate root growth and plant growth of these various species. The hope is that the root system will develop enough and the plant will be large enough to then transfer into the wetland and stream area. Multiple clippings of each species are desired in order to be able to reproduce and have genetically different offspring once transferred and matured in the restorative areas. Some species propagate easier than others and the creative inquiry aimed to study which plant species would work best.
Amanda Seiler is currently studying Environment and Natural Resources here at Clemson Univeristy for here undergraduate degree. She was added to the Hunnicutt Research Team over the summer of her sophomore year to work towards removing invasive species plants around the campus streams. She is also in charge of the Hunnicutt Creek website and conducting monthly stream surveys of the Hunnicutt Creek.
Kaleb Painter is currently studying Wildlife and Fisheries Biology here at Clemson University for his undergraduate degree. He was added to the Hunnicutt Research Team the summer after his sophomore year to work on removing invasive plant species around the campus streams. He is now working on water quality and stream monitoring of Hunnicutt Creek.
Zachary Ballard is a Junior Agricultural Mechanization and Business major. He is also a member of Clemson Army ROTC. He joined the team Spring semester 2018. He was brought on for any fabrication needs as well as a lab assistant.
Brett Kelly is a Junior Wildlife and Fisheries major from Abbeville South Carolina. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys trout fishing and duckhunting. His role with undergraduate research is primarily related to stream health. He assists Jeremy Pike with multi-habitat macroinvertebrate samples in many upstate streams. He collects macroinvertebrate samples afield and then brings them to the lab to be sorted taxonomically. He also assists other interns with various water quality monitoring duties on Clemson’s campus.
Sean McKinney is currently conducting laboratory analysis and field collection for 3 separate research projects. He helps managelaboratory activities and has taken on the responsibility of lab's vehicle maintenance. He is soon to be involved with the field operations for the Intelligent River Project on Clemson University's campus. Additionally, he will be involved in sensor installation, maintenance, and calibration.
Carolyn Lanza is a senior studying Environmental and Natural Resources: Conservation Biology. She has been a part of the wetland and stream restoration of Hunnicutt Creek since her sophomore year. She is currently working on creating an invasive species management plan for Clemson’s campus and coordinating volunteer groups to help with invasive vegetation removal. Carolyn plans to continue her education by attending graduate school for stream restoration.
Focus on Creative Inquiry 2016 (3rd Place!)
Focus on Creative Inquiry 2015
S.C. Water Resources Conference 2014
Vegetative Succession in Restored Wetland and Stream Ecosystem: Hunnicutt Creek Case Study has been an ongoing Creative Inquiry since Spring 2014.