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Effects of recreational flow releases on natural resources of the Indian and Hudson Rivers in the Central Adirondack Mountains, New York, 2004-06

May 10, 2011

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and Cornell University carried out a cooperative 2-year study from the fall of 2004 through the fall of 2006 to characterize the potential effects of recreational-flow releases from Lake Abanakee on natural resources in the Indian and Hudson Rivers. Researchers gathered baseline information on hydrology, temperature, habitat, nearshore wetlands, and macroinvertebrate and fish communities and assessed the behavior and thermoregulation of stocked brown trout in study reaches from both rivers and from a control river. The effects of recreational-flow releases (releases) were assessed by comparing data from affected reaches with data from the same reaches during nonrelease days, control reaches in a nearby run-of-the-river system (the Cedar River), and one reach in the Hudson River upstream from the confluence with the Indian River. A streamgage downstream from Lake Abanakee transmitted data by satellite from November 2004 to November 2006; these data were used as the basis for developing a rating curve that was used to estimate discharges for the study period. River habitat at most study reaches was delineated by using Global Positioning System and ArcMap software on a handheld computer, and wetlands were mapped by ground-based measurements of length, width, and areal density. River temperature in the Indian and Hudson Rivers was monitored continuously at eight sites during June through September of 2005 and 2006; temperature was mapped in 2005 by remote imaging made possible through collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology. Fish communities at all study reaches were surveyed and characterized through quantitative, nearshore electrofishing surveys. Macroinvertebrate communities in all study reaches were sampled using the traveling-kick method and characterized using standard indices. Radio telemetry was used to track the movement and persistence of stocked brown trout (implanted with temperature-sensitive transmitters) in the Indian and Hudson Rivers during the summer of 2005 and in all three rivers during the summer of 2006. The releases had little effect on river temperatures, but increased discharges by about one order of magnitude. Regardless of the releases, river temperatures at all study sites commonly exceeded the threshold known to be stressful to brown trout. At most sites, mean and median water temperatures on release days were not significantly different, or slightly lower, than water temperatures on nonrelease days. Most differences were very small and, thus, were probably not biologically meaningful. The releases generally increased the total surface area of fast-water habitat (rapids, runs, and riffles) and decreased the total surface area of slow-water habitat (pools, glides, backwater areas, and side channels). The total surface areas of wetlands bordering the Indian River were substantially smaller than the surface areas bordering the Cedar River; however, no channel geomorphology or watershed soil and topographic data were assessed to determine whether the releases or other factors were mainly responsible for observed differences. Results from surveys of resident biota indicate that the releases generally had a limited effect on fish and macroinvertebrate communities in the Indian River and had no effect on communities in the Hudson River. Compared to fish data from Cedar River control sites, the impoundment appeared to reduce total density, biomass, and richness in the Indian River at the first site downstream from Lake Abanakee, moderately reduce the indexes at the other two sites on the Indian River, and slightly reduce the indexes at the first Hudson River site downstream from the confluence with the Indian River. The densities of individual fish populations at all Indian River sites were also reduced, but related effects on fish populations in the Hudson River were less evident. Altho

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Effects of recreational flow releases on natural resources of the Indian and Hudson Rivers in the Central Adirondack Mountains, New York, 2004-06
DOI 10.3133/sir20105223
Authors Barry P. Baldigo, C.I. Mulvihill, A.G. Ernst, B.A. Boisvert
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2010-5223
Index ID sir20105223
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center

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