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Timber Harvest Impacts on Water Yield in the Continental/Maritime Hydroclimatic Region of the United States

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The inland Pacific Northwest of the United States is influenced by both maritime and continental hydrometeorogical conditions. To date there are limited studies of hydrologic impacts resulting from contemporary timber harvest in this region. Streamflow data were collected since 1991 at the Mica Creek Experimental Watershed (MCEW) in northern Idaho. Treatments were designed to isolate the effects of road construction and two different harvest practices (50% clearcut, 50% partial cut). The change in water yield was assessed using linear regression and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Water yield increased in excess of 270 mm/yr (P < 0.01) after clearcut harvesting, and by more than 140 mm/yr (P < 0.01) after partial cut harvesting. Monthly and seasonal analyses revealed the largest impacts of harvest practices on water yield during the snow deposition and melt season from November through June. Dry season analyses (July through October) indicated negligible water yield increases after treatments. Estimates of evapotranspiration (ET) as the residual of the catchment water balance suggest that ET was reduced by 35% and 14% after clearcut and partial cut harvest, respectively. These results establish a base on which to develop tools for effective watershed management in the northern Idaho continental/maritime hydroclimatic region.

Keywords: Mica Creek; Pacific Northwest; forest hydrology; stream discharge; timber harvest

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-04-01

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  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
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