Vegetation Cover and Erosion Vulnerability in the Lake Maumelle Watershed, Arkansas

Authors: Ashley Barto*, University of Central Arkansas
Topics: Natural Resources, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Vegetation cover analysis, GIS, erosion potential, trail management
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Vegetation along mountain bike trails may slow erosion and sediment loss. Recreational activities like mountain biking can reduce vegetation and biodiversity surrounding trails. As mountain biking becomes increasingly popular in the United States, studying its impacts on trail vegetation cover and sediment loss is important. The Lake Maumelle Watershed provides drinking water to over 250,000 Arkansans, but the implications of mountain biking on the Ouachita Trail in the Lake Maumelle Watershed are not well understood, nor is there data on the vegetation along the trail. Therefore, I identified percent vegetation cover along edges of steep segments of the trail using GIS and field reconnaissance.
High risk areas were identified with GIS software by selecting steep segments and trail sections near Lake Maumelle tributaries. I visually categorized steep trail segment edges by their percent vegetation cover classes of <25%, 26-50%, 51-75% and >75%, which are easily discernable thresholds. Using cover class and general cover type data, I modeled sections of the trail lacking vegetation that could mitigate sediment loss. For this model, lack of vegetation cover, steep slopes, and proximity to streams were indicators of erosion potential.
My results will model erosion vulnerability along the Ouachita Trail as a function of vegetation deficiencies, slope, and tributary proximity along the Ouachita Trail. My findings will inform land managers of high concern areas in the watershed, and it may demonstrate the need for vegetation addition and restoration if mountain biking becomes popular on vulnerable stretches of the trail.

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