Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Virginia Project

Evaluating efficacy of agricultural BMPs in the upper Clinch, Powell, and Holston river drainages

September 2018 - June 2021


Participating Agencies

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service

Agricultural best management practices (BMPs) are implemented widely. and at great taxpayer expense, to mitigate adverse effects of nutrient and sediment pollution in streams. However, the efficacy of most BMPs for reducing biophysical impacts of pollution is scarcely documented.
Rigorous assessments of which BMPs, how many BMPs, and in what spatial arrangements are needed to inform land-management choices by agencies and landowners. Such choices are especially important in watersheds supporting many imperiled species, such as the upper Tennessee River basin.
The project is a collaboration among Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and state agencies in Virginia and Tennessee.
Results from field-based data analysis and computer models will be synthesized to provide guidelines to farmland managers regarding how to implement BMPS cost-effectively.
1. Characterize spatial patterns (at HUC12 resolution) of BMP implementation and predicted sediment and nutrient loading in the Clinch-Powell river drainage upstream of Norris Reservoir and in the Holston River drainage upstream of the Virginia-Tennessee line (collectively, the upper CPH);
2. Analyze the influences of BMPs, relative to other watershed features, on predicted sediment and nutrient loads in HUC12s across the upper CPH;
3. Quantify relations among BMP implementation, observed instream water quality and habitat quality, and observed biotic assemblages;
4. Quantify cost-effectiveness of BMP implementation in HUC12s across the upper CPH.