Impact of Forest Treatments and Climate Change on Hydrologic Regimes: Assesssment of the Mechanisms that Affect Hydrologic Alteration
A sound scientific basis for forest management decisions is necessary in order to foster and maintain healthy rural economies and sustainable forest environments in the western United States. Forest harvest and road construction may impact water resources by altering the timing and volume of water flows from forested watersheds. It is believed that particularly sensitive areas in the Pacific Northwest are the transient snow zones, where the snowpack melts periodically during the winter. The purpose of this project is to improve our understanding of how forest harvest, road patterns, and climate change will impact water flow in watersheds that span the transient snow zone. The objectives are to use extensive field measurements and computer models to accurately simulate flow changes resulting from harvest practices. The computer models will be
verified in an intensively-instrumented experimental watershed in northern Idaho, where a variety of road construction and harvest practices are being studied. The models will then be used to predict how flows are expected to change under future harvest, climate, and combined harvest and climate scenarios. Model and data comparisons will be completed to determine the efficacy of the different modeling tools for forest management applications. The results of this research will help increase the certainty of hydrologic impact predictions in managed forestlands by explicitly linking predicted climate changes to ideal management scenarios.