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Hydrographic and benthic mapping—St. Croix National Scenic Riverway—Osceola landing

February 23, 2021

High-resolution topographic and bathymetric mapping can assist in the analysis of river habitat. The National Park Service has been planning to relocate a boat ramp along the St. Croix River in Minnesota, across the river from the town of Osceola, Wisconsin, to improve visitor safety, improve operations for commercial use, enhance the overall visitor experience, and eliminate deferred maintenance at the landing. This landing grants access to the St. Croix River, which is a part of the National Park Service St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Hydrographic and topographic surveys were needed to determine where the new location should be. The objective for these surveys was to provide baseline information in order to assess the direct effects of the landing relocation on physical habitat in areas adjacent to Osceola, Wisconsin. The study area for these surveys was about 18.5 hectares and located directly off the existing landing. Although the existing boat launch is referred to as the Osceola landing, it is located on the Minnesota side of the river and is the busiest National Park Service landing on the St. Croix River (National Park Service St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, 2020). This report documents methods and results of aquatic benthic mapping in a small area of the St. Croix River.

The hydroacoustic and topographic surveys were collected from October 16–17, 2019. The hydrographic surveys consisted of multibeam and sidescan sound navigation and ranging (sonars). The topographic shoreline survey consisted of light detection and ranging (lidar) captured by boat adjacent to riverbanks. Additionally, an acoustic Doppler current profiler was used to measure flow velocities. The water level was higher than normal, and therefore had faster flow during the hydroacoustic surveys. Multibeam, lidar, and sidescan surveys occurred the first day, and the velocity mapping and ground truthing was conducted the second day. Multibeam and lidar provided derivative datasets that included bathymetry and a topobathy with a spatial resolution of 1 foot. From these data, additional data could be measured including slope and terrain ruggedness. Sidescan (acoustic reflectance measures) provided imagery that was used to help with interpretation of the river bottom.

Outcomes from these combined datasets were substrate and bedform maps. Much of the area was covered in sand ripples or small dunes. A small area running adjacent to the deeper valley or cut down the river consisted of harder substrates, such as cobble and gravel. Large woody debris piles were found throughout the study area. Multiple stationary moving-bed tests were completed, and no corrections were recommended for the conditions occurring during survey. Mussel presence was noted in some of the underwater videos. The physical parameters of depth, flow, bedforms, and substrate derived from the datasets provided baseline measures for a benthic habitat map. Further analysis of benthic habitat might be possible with additional biological and chemical data.

Publication Year 2021
Title Hydrographic and benthic mapping—St. Croix National Scenic Riverway—Osceola landing
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201149
Authors Jenny L. Hanson, Jayme M. Strange
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2020-1149
Index ID ofr20201149
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center