Often, sedimentation can be seen entering larger waterways from the small tributaries due to land use practices in those smaller watersheds. When rainfall causes rivers to rise the small tributaries rise first and we are trying to capture that moment when the small rivers are showing just how much sediment they are contributing to the system.
Why are we doing this? Eastern Hellbenders are an imperiled aquatic salamander that can grow up to 2.5 feet long and they are a treasure of the ecosystem of the Appalachian Mountains. These salamanders have seen declines of up to 80% throughout their range and much of that decline can be attributed to irresponsible land use practices along the corridors of waterways in Western North Carolina. When waterways are cleared of the vegetation along their banks, those banks can quickly start eroding and contributing excess sediment into the system. Hellbenders need a specific type of habitat to successfully reproduce: clean, fast flowing water with large rocks and boulders. The Hellbenders use the underside of large rocks and boulders as nesting sites and when excess sediment finds its way into the system that can fill in the critical spaces under those large rocks and boulders that Hellbenders depend on.
Project methods can be found on the Anecdata project page at