University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture
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Abstract

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) is a unique destination in Northwest Arkansas that draws more than 80,000 visitors a year. While the BGO manages low-input practices, run-off from pesticide application and synthetic fertilizers containing phosphorus and nitrogen are of concern to water quality, habitat, and overall ecological interactions of the BGO streambanks and adjacent Hilton Creek, which flows directly into Lake Fayetteville. One way to reduce pollution to waterbodies is through the use of riparian buffers. This project sought to establish a riparian buffer immediately adjacent to a portion of Hilton Creek in an effort to improve ecological functions and water quality. The hypothesis of this study is that the streambank restoration will increase plant abundance and diversity and improve riparian habitat quality, thus enhancing ecological functions of the Hilton Creek streambank. Pre- and post-restoration assessments were conducted to test this hypothesis. A streambank riparian habitat quality assessment was adapted from the Qualitat del Bosc de Ribera’ (in English, ‘Riparian Habitat Quality’, (QBR)) index and species diversity values based from on-site plant species inventories were analyzed using a Shannon–Wiener Index of diversity. Overall, the pre-restoration QBR index value was calculated as 55 out of 100 and post-restoration QBR index value was calculated as 65 out of 100, suggesting an immediate improvement in riparian habitat quality. Inventoried plant species equated to a pre-restoration Shannon–Wiener Index of diversity value of 2.13, while the post-restoration Shannon–Wiener Index of diversity equaled 2.91, indicating an increase in species diversity. Water quality parameters were recorded to establish baseline values for Hilton Creek to encourage future monitoring of the project site as the streambank restoration matures.

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