Because of our focus on watershed science, Stillwater attracts the most qualified and well-respected fluvial geomorphologists working outside of academia. We use geomorphic principles to help understand relationships between organisms and their environment, provide mechanisms by which stream flow affects sediment movement downstream, and design and evaluate floodplain and channel restoration efforts. The broad-based background of our technical staff allows us to tackle many different questions and applications of geomorphology, including:

* Geomorphic and geologic watershed mapping and interpretation
* Sediment source inventories and sediment budget determinations
* Historical records analyses and land use change impact assessments
* Stream flow and sediment entrainment and transport monitoring
* High-resolution flow velocity profiling
* Channel geometry and bed profile surveys
* Channel bed and subsurface sediment characterization including facies mapping
* Numerical modeling of sediment transport dynamics in sand- and gravel-bed rivers
* Numerical modeling of reservoir sediment deposition and stratification
* Physical modeling (flume) experiments
* Aquatic and estuarine habitat characterization and modeling
* Large wood assessments and budgets,
* Planning and designs for river restoration, gravel augmentation, instream habitat structure placement
* Strategic planning for dam removal
* Prescriptions for ecological high flow releases
* Designs for ecological high flow implementation
* Baseline and post-project monitoring and evaluation

These skills are applied to all aspects of the project process, including strategic planning, project orientation and conceptual model development, determination of current site conditions, interpretation of past site conditions, and prediction of future site conditions.  We work closely with colleagues and teaming partners to provide interdisciplinary biophysical and biogeochemical answers that are targeted directly at client questions and priorities.


Stillwater Sciences specializes in fluvial and hillslope geomorphology, and routinely conducts sediment transport modeling, sediment source analysis, habitat parameterization, and assessments for directing restoration design.

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Jay Stallman
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Merced River Ranch: An integrated approach to restoration

To improve ecologic integrity for anadromous salmonids and riparian vegetation along the Merced River Ranch reach, this CALFED-funded project set out to restore fundamental geomorphic processes and floodplain connectivity. Over two years, Stillwater geomorphologists sampled, surveyed, mapped, and monitored channel geometry, bed sediment transport, and surface sediment to establish baseline habitat conditions. They then used a sediment transport model to scale the proposed channel and floodplain and determine appropriate instream flow hydraulics and corridor inundation frequencies under the regulated flow regime of the lower Merced River.

North Umpqua Hydroelectric Project: Sound stakeholder solutions

Stillwater scientists helped kickstart stalled negotiations during the North Umpqua Hydroelectric Project relicensing settlement-agreement process. To overcome the lack of spawning gravels available to Chinook salmon, some stakeholders proposed drawing down a project reservoir; salmon would then gain access to gravels that had accumulated at the reservoir’s head. Stillwater’s modeling, however, showed that these deposits would simply wash downstream. We proposed instead that large boulders be placed in the reach upstream of the reservoir. This placement created hydraulic conditions allowing the deposition of stable gravel patches ideal for spawning.