A Post-Restoration Assessment of the Fishes and Macroinvertebrates of Mill Branch, Knox County, Kentucky, with Emphasis on the Blackside Dace (<i>Chrosomus cumberlandensis</i>)
The first stream habitat restoration project for the federally threatened blackside dace, Chrosomus cumberlandensis (Starnes and Starnes), was initiated in fall 2005 on Mill Branch, a small headwater stream located in the Upper Cumberland River basin, Knox County, Kentucky. The lower 700 meters of Mill Branch were restored through construction of a new, stable channel with specially designed habitat features for blackside dace. In August 2009, the newly restored channel was connected to the mainstem and the old channel was eliminated. A post-restoration survey was conducted on the fishes (with emphasis on the blackside dace) and benthic macroinvertebrate communities, between August 2009 and June 2010, to determine if the restoration effort resulted in biological improvement. It appeared the new channel was gradually becoming more stable in terms of water quality and habitat. The overall fish community showed no improvement for most sections in the new channel. However, the blackside dace population has increased considerably from the first sampling event in 2006 prior to construction. Blackside dace have begun to utilize areas below the new culvert. Two individuals were found over 300 meters downstream of the new culvert. Baseline data for the macroinvertebrate community showed fair water quality conditions within the new channel for all sites sampled in March 2010. Long-term monitoring of Mill Branch should be continued to assess the long-term success of the stream restoration, to evaluate the overall stream ecosystem structure and function of Mill Branch, and to assist in our efforts to successfully enhance other degraded streams.