Ben's Branch Stream, Webb City, MO
Site 2 - Cardinal Valley Restoration *
Site 3 - Under Hawthorn Bridge
Photo by Randy Haas
About Ben's Branch
Everything done to the land affects the quality of the water in your watershed. Streams and rivers provide vital habitat and a source of fresh water for fish, wildlife and humans. Humans can harm water condition but we can also play a part in restoring habitat and water quality. One way we can protect a stream is by monitoring its health.
Ben’s Branch stream is a second order intermittent prairie stream. It joins Center Creek, a fifth order stream within the Spring River Watershed Basin. This watershed area is within the Oronogo-Duenweg Mining Belt, abandoned and left contaminated by tons of mining waste, left in uncovered piles. Runoff from these piles has entered groundwater and surface streams, contaminating them with lead, zinc and cadmium. Over the last few years, the Environmental Protection Agency, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Webb City, teamed up to clean, reclaim, and return the land to a more natural habitat. Northwestern sections of the restoration area include a wetland area near Center Creek that will help remove zinc and other heavy metals from the effluent water leaving the Center Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and then running into Center Creek.
To learn more about the Cardinal Valley Prairie/Wetland Restoration Project: http://webbcitymo.org/department/detail/cardinal-valleywetlands-restoration-project
Chert Glades MMN Stream Team operates with the sponsorship of the Missouri Master Naturalist - Chert Glades Chapter. We are a group of volunteers promoting awareness of natural resource conservation and current conservation issues.
In the spring of 2018, we adopted this stream and will be monitoring the water quality two times a year as suggested by the Missouri Stream Team's Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) Program. We have been trained by the program educators to test for physical, biological and chemical parameters of Missouri's rivers and streams.
All volunteer data is used to establish baseline data on streams throughout Missouri, establish long-term trends, and locate streams in need of professional follow-up monitoring.
Stream Improvement Project
Upper portions of Ben's Branch is suffering from soil erosion, which increases the sediment in the water. Gravel and cobble-sized sediments are very important as habitat for stream-bottom macroinvertebrates, such as the larvae of caddisflies and stoneflies, and as spawning habitat for fish. But too much sediment can cause problems. For example, sand and finer grained sediment, including silts and clays, can degrade gravel and cobble habitats. Light and dissolved oxygen (air) cannot filter through to the streambed and macroinvertebrates and other aquatic wildlife such as small fishes cannot utilize the small spaces between sediment particles. As the amount of dissolved oxygen drops below normal levels in water bodies, the water quality is harmed and creatures begin to die off.
Our team's goal is to improve this tributary's water quality by stabilzing the bank and reduce the amount of soil erosion. Planting shrubs, trees and other vegetation protect the stream from pollutants and runoff. They absorb excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Plants protect the stream banks from erosion by providing a protective barrier against the water. The trunks, branches, stems and leaves intercept the water currents that can weaken and wash away bank material.
In addition to protecting water and soil, riparian buffers provide important habitat for aquatic and upland wildlife and also fish habitat.
lack of vegetation 3/2019
200 pollinator and bank stabilization shrubs planted 3/2019
visit this stream in the late summer or fall to see the new beginnings
What can you do to help?
Keep your neighborhood storm drains clear of fallen leaves, grass clippings and other trash and debris. Congregation of debris around and in the storm drains can cause flooding. Reduce the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides. Spot spray only as needed. Pick up pet waste. Millions of tons of pet waste enter our water systems each day from sprinkler and rain runoff. All these things contribute to polluted drinking water for animals and humans. Plant native plants to better hold down loose soils which can clog storm drains. Native plants have longer deeper roots and require less watering. Too often we over water, which wastes clean water that runs off into storm drains.
During heavy rains, runoff washes all these yard items into the nearest storm channel, which eventually flow into your local streams and rivers. These are sources of wildlife habitat, aquatic species and your drinking water sources. All these pollutants cause the water to become murky, which blocks sunlight and decrease plant growth. Plants are the food sources for insects, worms, crayfish and other animals that support fish populations.
If you are interested in water quality, learn more or join a Missouri Streamteam. There may be a group in your state.