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Cutting the Forest to Increase Water Yields

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Is it practicable to cut the forest to increase water yields ? What are the flood risks and water quality hazards involved? What are the direct costs that may be incurred, and are there losses in timber income and other forest resources to be considered? These questions are discussed in terms of the results from watershed research on the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia, a mountain hardwood forest in a region of heavy, well-distributed rainfall. Four degrees of forest cutting, ranging from a commercial clearcutting to a light selection cutting, were made on 40- to 95-acre watersheds. Increases in water yields were roughly proportional to the amount of timber removed. Increases (and with heavy cutting these were large) came mostly in the growing season--the period of greatest need. Cutting effects on high flows were not great; periods of high flow occur most frequently in the dormant season. Vegetation regrowth was rapid and the effects of cutting on streamflow diminished quickly. Water quality was adversely affected by poor logging practices that resulted in erosion and sedimentation. The effects of cutting on water quality were greatest during the period of active logging and diminished soon afterward.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Forester, Northeastern Forest Expt. Sta., Forest Service, U. S. Dept. Agric., Upper Darby, Pa.

Publication date: 1963-09-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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