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Sediment transport in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River near Stanley, Idaho, water years 2012–19

October 18, 2021

Placer and dredging operations in the Yankee Fork Basin, Idaho, have left more than 5 miles of the lower Yankee Fork of the Salmon River (Yankee Fork) in a highly altered fluvial condition, resulting in poor habitat quantity and quality for native fish species. Since 2011, the Bureau of Reclamation and other stakeholders have implemented a series of restoration efforts to improve the connectivity of the river with its floodplain and to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitat in the Yankee Fork. In conjunction with these rehabilitation efforts, the U.S. Geological Survey monitored streamflow and suspended-sediment and bedload transport during water years 2012–19 at four sites in the affected lower reach of the Yankee Fork. The objectives of the monitoring were to (1) identify source areas of sediment, (2) quantify sediment transport in the lower Yankee Fork, and (3) provide a benchmark to evaluate the effects of rehabilitation efforts in the basin.

During the 8 years of sampling, the annual flow-weighted suspended-sediment concentrations (SSCs) were largest at the most downstream Clayton site, ranging from a low of 11 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in 2015 to 145 mg/L in 2017. The Clayton site also had the largest flow-weighted concentrations of suspended sand and suspended fines. At relatively low streamflow, the fine-grained fraction of the suspended sediment was the dominant component of the SSC at all sites, with an increase in the sand-size fraction as streamflow increased during snowmelt runoff. Each of the three main-stem Yankee Fork sites indicated a large amount of hysteresis in SSCs during snowmelt runoff, with concentrations on the rising limb of the hydrograph larger than concentrations on the falling limb at similar streamflow. Hysteresis was particularly evident in the fine-grained fraction of suspended sediment, indicating that sediment transport in the lower Yankee Fork is more limited by the supply of fine-grained sediment as compared to coarser-grained sediment.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Sediment transport in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River near Stanley, Idaho, water years 2012–19
DOI 10.3133/sir20215111
Authors Gregory M. Clark, Scott D. Ducar
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2021-5111
Index ID sir20215111
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Idaho Water Science Center

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