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Drainage canal vegetation management plan for the city of Jonesboro

Robert Kröger, Jerry Farris (ASU), Matt Moore (USDA/ARS)

Graduate Student(s):  Tyler Stubbs, Andrew McDonnell

This project was funded by the City Council of Jonesboro, AR who were interested in establishing baseline data on the vegetation community in several regulation drainage basins in Jonesboro, and try to establish some maintenance guidelines for vegetation in these respective canals.

Vegetation management in urban environments, specifically within drainage canal systems, has multiple implications for storm water management, storm water control, flooding and human dimensions. This project assessed 51 drainage canal sites within the greater City of Jonesboro limits, focused on the 8 FEMA designated drainage canals (and an additional non-evaluated drainage canal system) and described the dominant type, percentage aerial cover of vegetation (both woody and non-woody species) and bank materials for each evaluated site. A total of 94 species were recorded, of which only four species occurred in more than seven drainage basins. Each drainage basin had variable percent covers occupied by each of the vegetation subclasses (trees >5 m; brush <5 m; forbs, grasses and bare-ground) based on prior maintenance history, or age of the drainage reach (i.e. newer sites in the industrial sections of Moore’s, Little Bay). Rip-rap which is a typical bank stabilization material was encountered in eight of the nine drainage basins, with the highest percentage of bank rip-rap (80%) occurring in the Christian drainage basin. After addressing the question about vegetation community assemblages at each site, the project aimed to identify species of vegetation conducive for planting that would yield the goals of storm water maintenance (i.e. low-growing stature, good ground cover for bank stabilization, lack of woody debris after senescence). Management recommendations were created for each drainage basin, as determined by the respective vegetation assemblage. Management recommendations also included individual bridge crossings / pilings that could cause storm flow abatement due to large woody debris blockages. Management recommendations included physical maintenance (mowing, cutting, removal), and broad-leaf herbicide applications for the suppression of small woody seedlings. Fire was a management recommendation left out of the final management decisions. While fire is a useful tool for suppressing woody species establishment and encouraging wanted native herbaceous and grass species growth, it is a hazardous tool in an urban drainage setting.


Gulf of Mexico Research

Completed Projects