Pflieger (1989) includes the basin in the Ozark-White Division community. Streams in this classification are found in narrow, steep-sided valleys with high bluffs and are characterized by high gradient and relief (usually between 300 and 600 feet). Streams in this region are clear with a substrate of mostly gravel and rubble with some boulders and bedrock. Channels of these streams also have clear, well-defined riffles and pools. There are numerous springs in the area due to the karst topography. This makes some streams of the region ideal for cool or cold water fisheries.
Channel alterations in the basin include modifications to urban stream courses, channelization associated with road and bridge construction, several small impoundments on streams such as Finley Creek, small channel modifications related to gravel removal and efforts by individual landowners to control streambank erosion and similar problems, and the impoundment of major portions of the original James River and some of its tributaries by Table Rock Dam and Lake Springfield Dam. Approximately 44 miles of the James River have been impounded. Instream gravel mining operations are typically small, few in number, and scattered. With the exception of channel alterations on small streams in the Springfield urban area, channelization in the basin is limited.
Streams flowing through urban portions of Springfield have been straightened, lined with materials such as concrete and riprap, cleared of riparian vegetation, and in some cases, re-routed through underground channels. Channel alterations of this kind are common on Jordan Creek, South Creek, and their tributaries.
Portions of Crane Creek on the Wire Road Conservation Area were channelized prior to MDC taking ownership. The channelized sections now appear relatively stable. Consideration had been given to re-routing streamflows into the original channel at one location. However, plans were dropped due to the potential for channel de-stabilization.
UNIQUE TERRESTRIAL HABITATS
The state's terrestrial natural resources have been classified into six major categories---Forest, Savanna, Prairie, Primary, Wetland, and Cave communities. These communities have been divided based on characteristic features such as topography, size, distribution, and characteristic plants (Nelson 1985).
The Missouri Department of Conservation's Natural Heritage Program has identified natural communities in three of these major types in the James River Basin; Forest, Primary and Wetland (Table 13).
- The James River Basin contains both upland and bottomland forest. The upland forest habitats include Dry-Mesic Limestone/Dolomite, Mesic Limestone/Dolomite, and Dry Chert Forest. The bottomland forest habitat type is the Mesic Bottomland Forest (Nelson 1985).
- The Primary category type found in the basin includes both Limestone and Dolomite Glade habitats, as well as the Limestone/Dolomite Cliff habitat (Nelson 1985).
- There is one Wetland community type identified, the Pond Shrub Swamp community (Nelson 1985).
As in most basins, there have been a variety of attempts by private landowners to stabilize streambanks. These attempts include channelization and bank armoring using a variety of materials including rock, gravel, and construction debris.
MDC personnel have installed seven improvement projects since 1989 (Table 14), three on MDC property, one on property owned by the City of Cassville, and three on private property.
STREAM HABITAT ASSESSMENT
Stream habitat assessments (SHAD) were completed at 105 sites between 1993 and 1995 by Fisheries District 9 staff (Table 15, Figures 5A-D). SHAD sites were selected in all four of the major sub-basins using the guidelines of Bovee (1982).
SHAD assessments are summarized in Table 16 and the written SHAD summaries by sub-basin and by stream are included in Appendix B. Data on streambank erosion and protection, stream corridor, corridor vegetation quality, land use, channel condition, instream cover, and streambed condition are summarized.
Stream habitat quality throughout most of the basin is fair to good. Portions of the Crane Creek sub-basin as well as a few other areas suffer from a severe lack of riparian vegetation. Problem areas observed include lack of adequate riparian corridors, nutrient loading, streambank erosion, and instream activities such as gravel mining. Increased urbanization and related runoff also impact stream habitat quality.