Impacts of land-use change and best management practice implementation in a Conservation Effects Assessment Project watershed: Northwest Arkansas


A study was conducted to quantify land use and management changes and their effects on water quality as part of an effort to evaluate the effects of best management practices under the Conservation Effects Assessment Project. This study was focused on the Lincoln Lake watershed, a primarily pastured watershed in northwest Arkansas and one of the watersheds funded under the Conservation Effects Assessment Project competitive grants program. As with a number of other Conservation Effects Assessment Project watersheds, this watershed has undergone substantial land-use change over the past few years. These changes have occurred concurrently with best management practice implementation. Thus, the need has arisen to determine their impacts on watershed water quality. Land-use analyses covering a 12-year period revealed a rapidly changing landscape, with the various land uses experiencing gains and losses at different times. Furthermore, a systematic trend for pastured areas to be replaced by urban land uses was identified, with pastures experiencing a net decline of about 12% during the analyses period. With regard to water quality, downward trends were observed under base and storm flow conditions in the upper reaches (Upper Moores Creek) with significant changes in total phosphorus and total suspended solids (p-values = 0.0153 and 0.0135, respectively). Significant increases in flow and nitrate-nitrogen (p-values = 0.0465 and 0.0927, respectively) were observed in the lower reaches (Lower Moores Creek), while no appreciable changes were observed in one part of the watershed. We conclude that the concurrent implementation of best management practices served to protect water quality from otherwise adverse effects that might have occurred due to a rapid urbanization in the watershed.

Date of this Version










Link Out to Full Text