Land cover change along the Willamette River, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/gf06g613x

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  • The Willamette River and its floodplain in northwest Oregon have changed dramatically since European settlement. At one time, the river was a vast complex system of braided channels with a broad floodplain forest; it has now been simplified by channelization and dams, and the forest has been removed to support agricultural and urban expansion. This thesis presents three research manuscripts, each of which uses remote sensing and Geographical Information System methods to capture the dynamic nature of land along the Willamette River. In the first article, the river and its floodplain were mapped at four time periods, ranging from pre-settlement to modern day. The paper reports that the river system has been greatly simplified, and the floodplain has lost much of its original forest. An overlay technique was used to identify potential floodplain restoration sites. The second paper details the creation of a landcover map for the Willamette Valley, which shows that the largest portion of the floodplain is now in agriculture, with a significant amount in a built condition. The third manuscript outlines a methodology for detecting land cover change along the river during a twenty-year period that coincides with the implementation of the Willamette River Greenway, a land use designation designed to restrict riparian land conversion. It shows that regressive change is still occuring along the river, although not at the same rate as outside the greenway. The three papers lay the foundation for a future study to analyze the socioeconomic conditions which promote change.
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