Jennifer Cornell NSF Graduate Fellow
Thesis Title:
A Case Study of the City Creek Watershed in Pocatello: Creating an Adaptive Management Plan for a Small Municipal Watershed

Research Advisor:
Dr. Colden Baxter

Teacher Partner:
Robert Miron

Degree Sought:
MS in Stream Ecology

University Department:
Biological Sciences

Research Foci:
The focus of this project will be to catalogue the sources of the heavy sediment loading into City Creek and then to create an adaptive management plan to mitigate for this problem. The City Creek drainage is a municipal watershed area and is part of the water resources for the City of Pocatello. However, in the past 30 years it has also become a highly used recreational feature for the city. There has been an increase in the sediment detected in the water which has consequences for the water quality. By conducting this study there will be a better understanding of the sources of sediment which will then contribute to creating a management plan that will be optimal for both water resource quality and recreational use.

Description of Research:
This project will compile historical data on past land use to draw a clear picture of what has happened over time and compare that to current usage in the area. Scientific data will be collected on the quality of the water to monitor for hot spots of sediment influx to the system. By targeting these areas that are sources of the sediment a plan will be drawn for reducing these sources. During the summer of 2011 sampling will be conducted throughout the City Creek drainage, with special testing being conducted after particular disturbances such as heavy rain storms, large running and biking events and during spring runoff. Comparative measurements will be taken in the Gibson Jack Creek drainage system for comparison. Long term measuring will also begin to determine if any changes occur as a result of the adjustment in management practices in the watershed.

One example of how you integrate your research into your GK-12 experience:
With my research I hope to demonstrate to the students methods of monitoring water systems and also why it is so important to all of us to be aware of the impacts that we have on our water quality. I would like to take the students up to the watershed and have them conduct some of their own water quality data. This process will help them get a hands-on understanding of what it means to have good as opposed to bad water quality. On this field trip and on follow up in the class room I would like to introduce them to the concepts of ecosystems and explain the importance of having an integrative scientific discipline when addressing environmental issues in our landscapes.

Profile date: September 2010

Jennifer Cornell