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The Wabash River could provide a global example

Restoring the Wabash River to its pre-industrial state by using a modern conservation application toolbox would serve as an example for states and even some nations to fix its large waterways, says a researcher at Ball State University.

In their paper, "The Conservation Potential of the Great Rivers of North America: The Wabash River Compared to the Ohio and Illinois Rivers," Mark Pyron, George and Frances Ball Chair of Environmental Sciences in the Department of Biology, examines conservation efforts for the Illinois and Ohio rivers and suggests possible steps to protect and conserve the Wabash River that could be applied to other large river ecosystems.

 Pyron_Mark "src =" "= B4 300 px; height: 322 px; float: left; "/></p><p> <em> Mark Pyron, George and Frances Ball, Chair of Environmental Sciences </em></p></p></div><p> Pyron points out that a large toolbox River conservation requires establishing a timeline and expectations about the potential state that the ecosystem could achieve.</p><p> "Like the large neglected river systems around the world, the Wabash River has surprising resilience and ecological recovery," said Pyron. "For example, of the 151 native fish species found in the 19th century, only three species have experienced local extinctions, making the modern complex more intact than many comparable rivers in the Mississippi River basin.</p><p> "Successful conservation of the Wabash River is possible and begins with nutrient depletion from crop fields and sewers, mechanisms to restore historical hydrological patterns, additional sediment controls, and improved local hydraulic systems."</p><p> Although there were multiple stressors over the past century, the largest change in fish biodiversity in the Wabash River was associated with a rapid increase in municipal wastewater discharge and large-headed invasive carp, he said.</p><p> The Wabash runs 503 miles from the headwaters near the center of Ohio's western border to the northwest and then southwest through northern Indiana. Although there are numerous reservoirs in its tributaries and a main reservoir at mile 300 of the river, the bottom two thirds remain the longest unrepresented flow east of the Mississippi River.</p><p> Pyron said that many rivers in the US USA They suffered problems similar to those of most tributaries of the Mississippi River Basin. These include a well-documented progression of human activities from changes in land use and agricultural practices, contamination from sources such as sewers and agricultural fields, hydrological disturbances in the construction of dams and reservoirs, and the establishment of invasive species.</p><p> Pyron notes that several researchers have recommended ecological restoration to reduce flooding by increasing the roughness of the canal, increasing the complexity of the current habitat with large rocks or large woody debris, or increasing the construction of wetlands.</p><p> Other tactics:</p><ul><li> Incentives for modifying cover crops in agricultural sub-basins to reduce peak flow runoff and subsequent nutrient spikes.</li><li> Associations and policies such as the proposed National Fish Habitat Conservation Act through Associations to engage the public and politicians to stop ongoing degradation and promote major habitat restoration.</li><li> Restore floodplains allowing natural seasonal flooding.</li><li> Build an association with representation from resource users, agricultural interests, and management agencies to identify and promote potential conservation, land use modifications, policies, and mitigation to protect or improve watersheds on all rivers.</li></ul><p> The study was published in the online edition of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences in June.</p></p></div>
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