CSU Students, Faculty Help The Nature Conservancy on Stream Restoration Project

Columbus State University 's Earth and Space Sciences Department recently began a partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on a stream restoration project in the Upatoi Creek watershed near Ft. Benning. TNC is working to remove several dams and restore streams on their own land, and CSU students and faculty will monitor the area pre- and post-restoration to understand potential habitat improvements resulting from the project.

"The collaboration between CSU and TNC is a model public-private partnership with tremendous benefits for CSU students," said Troy Keller, earth and space sciences professor at CSU. "The project immerses students in field research, allowing them to work closely with scientists and managers at the nation's largest and most trusted environmental non-profit, The Nature Conservancy."

In addition to analyzing the biotic and physical recover of streams, students will help organize the Society for Ecological Restoration's Southeastern Chapter conference to be held at CSU's Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in October. Through scientific presentations and field trips, the symposium will highlight the research CSU students and faculty conduct as part of the CSU-TNC collaboration.

According to The Nature Conservancy, there are more than 30,000 dams in Georgia, many of which no longer serve their intended purpose. Dams and undersized, poorly designed culverts prevent fish and other aquatic organisms from moving through waters in search of habitat, food and spawning grounds. The Nature Conservancy works with partners across Georgia to improve fish passage and enhance public safety and recreation through dam removal and culvert replacement projects.

"Partnership and collaboration are key to TNC's conservation approach," said Sara Gottlieb, Director of Freshwater Science and Strategy at The Nature Conservancy. "We're delighted to work with faculty and students from CSU's Department of Earth and Space Sciences to develop a monitoring program to study the impact of removing the dams and restoring hydrologic connectivity and stream habitats in the Chattahoochee Fall Line landscape."

The Nature Conservancy's project is funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation with a goal of improving aquatic connectivity and habitat for the unique species that live in tributaries in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin.