Stream Restoration Monitoring Utilizing an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Teton Creek, Idaho

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Tobin Stegman, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
Stream restoration is a growing field in fluvial geomorphology. As demands on water resources increase the need for sustainable and healthy waterways becomes even more essential. This research investigates how an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) can be utilized for data collection necessary in stream restoration design and evaluation. UAV’s offer an inexpensive method to collect information on channel geometry and map grain size distributions of the bed material. This data is critical in hydraulic flow modeling and engineering plans needed to create a restoration design, as well as evaluate if an implemented project has met its goals. This research utilized a UAV and structure-from-motion photogrammetry to monitor a recent stream restoration project designed to reduce erosion on a 1.9 km reach of Teton Creek in Eastern Idaho. A digital elevation model of difference was created from an as-built field survey and a UAV derived terrain model to identify areas of erosion and deposition in the restoration reach. The data has shown relatively small areas of channel instability in the restoration reach, and has also identified sections which may require additional restoration activities in Teton Creek. The grain size distribution of Teton Creek was also mapped utilizing a UAV and digital photosieving techniques, for use in sediment transport equations in the restoration reach. Data collected quickly and inexpensively from a UAV is valuable to river managers to monitor restoration work. This research identifies the methods and materials needed for river managers to conduct UAV surveys of streams for use in restoration design and monitoring.