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The Effect and Extent of Railroad Tie Drives in Streams of Southeastern Wyoming

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Millions of railroad ties were floated (driven) down streams in southeastern Wyoming between 1868 and 1940. We identified 61 tie-driven streams in or near the Medicine Bow National Forest. We hypothesized that tie drives, and the stream clearing associated with driving, altered channel morphology and riparian vegetation. When comparing stream reaches of similar width and gradient, we found that tie-driven stream reaches contained less coarse woody debris and had significantly lower densities of large riparian trees than did unaffected reaches. Tie-driven reaches had lower channel complexity, a greater proportion of riffles, and fewer plunge and dammed pools than did unaffected reaches. We found significant relations among characteristics of the riparian trees, coarse woody debris, and stream channel structure. Recovery of the affected reaches may be contingent on the long-term increase in large trees in the riparian zone. West. J. Appl. For. 9(4):125-130.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, 222 S. 22nd St., Laramie, WY 82070

Publication date: 01 October 1994

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