The original Alsea Watershed Study found dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations at or near saturation in the control (Flynn Creek) and patchcut and buffered (Deer Creek) watersheds. DO concentrations in some reaches of the clearcut and unbuffered watershed (Needle Branch) were found to be substantially below saturation following the 1966 harvest. The depressed concentrations were thought to result from a combination of increased biochemical oxygen demand, reduced solubility due to stream heating, increased biological activity, and reduced reaeration. The Alsea Watershed Study Revisited (AWSR) returns to the same watersheds and provides an assessment of physical, chemical, and biological response to contemporary forest practices. During the pre-treatment phase of the AWRS low DO concentrations were observed in Needle Branch in the summer and fall. These low concentrations coincided with low flow periods. At these times flow becomes “discontinuously perennial” and portions of the stream network go subsurface. We now believe that despite having some of the highest reaeration rates ever measured, certain reaches of Needle Branch are prone to depressed DO concentrations. For some reaches, surface flow during critical late season periods is largely composed of recently emerged groundwater or hyporheic water. Both original study and AWSR findings show high spatial variability in DO concentrations.
The original Alsea Watershed Study measured water quality before and after logging. For Deer Creek with patchcuts and streamside vegetation buffers, there were no changes in water quality post-harvesting. Needle Branch was harvested without streamside buffers and the slash burned. Nitrate concentrations increased from 0.70 to a maximum of 2.10 mg/L, and returned to pretreatment levels by the 6th year after logging. The loss of nitrogen was negligible when compared to the nitrogen capital (soils and vegetation) and loss of terrestrial productivity was not anticipated. Additional water quality monitoring in the study watersheds identified spatial and temporal variations instream water quality. Of particular note is the influence of landscape elements including vegetation, soils, slope, and hydraulic conductivity as related to water quality, particularly nitrogen. Also the first significant fall storm flushes oxidized nitrogen from the soil profile and results in higher stream water nitrate concentrations. The Alsea Watershed Study Revisited (AWSR) provides an assessment of water quality response to contemporary forest practices. Nested watersheds in Needle Branch, including immediately below the harvest unit (NBU) and the original gauge (NBL) were compared for water quality changes. During the pre-treatment monitoring, nutrient concentrations at NBU were generally higher but paralleled concentrations at NBL.
Glyphosate, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), imazapyr, sulfometuron methyl, and metsulfuron methyl were measured in Needle Branch streamwater during and after application of herbicide(s). All herbicides were applied by helicopter in a single tank mix. Samples were collected at three sites: NBH (at the fish/no-fish interface in the middle of the harvest unit), NBU (at the bottom of the harvest unit), and NBL (well downstream). AMPA, imazapyr, sulfometuron methyl and metsulfuron methyl were not detected in any sample at 15 ng/L, 0.6 μg/L, 0.5 μg/L and 1 μg/L, respectively. However, a clear pulse of dissolved glyphosate manifested at NBH during the application (baseflow conditions). Subsequent baseflow samples collected three days after treatment (DAT) showed ≈25 ng/L dissolved glyphosate at all three sites. Samples collected during the first storm event (8 DAT) showed a clear pulse of dissolved glyphosate at NBU, but not at NBH or NBL. The maximum concentration observed during this pulse at NBU was 115 ng/L, and the pulse persisted for about six hours. During the next storm event (10 DAT) a clear pulse of dissolved glyphosate manifested at NBH, but not at NBU or NBL. The maximum co centration observed was 42 ng/L, and this pulse persisted for about ten hours. Results from all subsequent storm events showed dissolved glyphosate at <20 ng/L in all samples. A limited number of analyses on suspended sediment (SS) showed that SS held de minimis masses of glyphosate and AMPA.
Coastal cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii are the most widely distributed native salmonid in the forested watersheds of western Oregon. The initial Alsea Watershed Study demonstrated negative impacts on the abundance of cutthroat trout due to logging practices of the day. Here we report on abundance, size, growth, and condition of coastal cutthroat trout before and after logging under the current forest management practice regulations using a before, after, control, impact (BACI) study design with Flynn Creek and Needle Branch as the control and impact streams respectively. Relative abundance estimates are from a census of pool habitats using single-pass electrofishing and relative growth is from the recapture of individuals implanted with passive integrated transponder tags. A significant increase in age 1+ cutthroat trout biomass and abundance was observed post-harvest in Needle Branch relative to Flynn Creek (p=0.04 and 0.01 respectively). There was also a significant shift in the spatial distribution of cutthroat biomass in Needle Branch (p=0.04) in an upstream direction post-treatment suggesting that increases in cutthroat trout were spatially linked to the location of the harvest unit. There was no evidence for a treatment effect on mean fork length or the 90th percentile of fork length for age 1+ cutthroat trout (p=0.32 and 0.24 respectively). This result was supported by an absence of evidence for a treatment effect on relative growth rate.
The hydrological impacts of forest management remains a primary concern to resources managers yet much of our understanding about these effects comes from historic paired watershed studies conducted up to four decades ago. While these early studies play a critical role in the development of current best management practices and forest harvesting practices, results do not necessarily reflect the effects of modern forest harvesting. In this presentation we show results of a study conducted at the decade-long Hinkle Creek Paired Watershed Study that examines the local and downstream impacts of forest harvesting on streamflow. Streamflow was measured at the outlet of six (4 treatment|2 reference) headwater catchments and two (1 treatment|1 reference) 3rd –order watersheds. Regression-based change detection models were developed between reference and treated catchments using mean monthly streamflow, instantaneous maximum peak flow, and storm quick flow. Contemporary forest harvesting practices, defined by the Oregon Forest Practice Rule, were used to clear-cut harvest trees in four experimental headwater catchments, while reference catchments remained untouched. Forest harvesting treatments were initiated in the experimental headwater catchments in 2005 (1st entry) removing trees from 13% to 65% of catchment area following a fifteen to eighteen month calibration period.
Fertilizer was applied in 2004 and the response of the nutrient levels in the water was measured. Stream water samples were analyzed for nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, sulfate, chloride, and silicon as well as specific conductance, pH, and alkalinity. All treatment watersheds showed a statistically significant increase in NO3 + NO2 concentrations after clearcutting (p < 0.001). The slope of the streambed through the disturbance was a stronger predictor of the magnitude of the response than was the magnitude of disturbance. Ammonia and organic nitrogen displayed notable increases after harvest treatment, but these increases were attributed to increases in the control watersheds. Phosphorus showed a response to timber harvest in one headwater stream. The remaining nutrients showed a small decrease in the control and treatment watersheds for the period after harvest. The storm response results showed that NO3 + NO2 concentrations in stream water increase with discharge during small storms that occur after periods of negligible precipitation.
Here we evaluate the response of a headwater fish community to forest management using a before, after, control, impact (BACI) study design. Annual fish abundance and biomass estimates are from a census of pool and cascade habitat units over the fish-bearing portion of both the reference and treatment catchments. Movement, survival, and growth were estimated from the monitoring and recapture of salmonids marked with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Sampling consisted of an annual electrofishing and marking event during the low-flow period (2001-2011), and beginning in the winter of 2003, there were three annual mobile antenna PIT-tag survey events in December, March, and June. Additionally, continuously operating swim-through antennas were located at the downstream end of each stream segment. The study calibration phase occurred 2001-05. Treatment-1 (2006-2008) consisted of stream adjacent logging without retention of standing tree buffers with harvest units occurring in channels upstream from channel sections inhabited by fish. During Treatment-2 (2009-2011), there was stream adjacent logging with standard buffers as prescribed by current forest practice regulations. Analysis occurred at two spatial scales, tributaries only and catchments. Overall, very few detectable changes in habitat or biologic parameters were observed in conjunction with either treatment.
The agenda of the 2013 WRC Conference with presentation titles and speakers listed.
Our studies of stream invertebrate responses to contemporary timber practices compared treated to control sites prior to and following harvest at Hinkle, Alsea and upper Trask watersheds. In each watershed the BACI study design and robust replication has been crucial in accounting for natural variations in macroinvertebrate distributions while examining patterns of change in response to harvest. As these basins vary physically in association with regional and geologic differences, initially we observed distinctive invertebrate assemblage composition for each watershed. In addition the proportion of chironomid midges and total benthic densities were higher at Alsea and Trask headwaters than at Hinkle. Our ability to detect responses to harvest within basins was enhanced when we found no pre-harvest differences in macroinvertebrate densities, percent chironomids, or taxa richness between control and treatment reaches of similar size at Hinkle and Trask watersheds. However significant invertebrate community differences were observed between the two Alsea tributaries, likely due to differences in tributary sizes or other physical and chemical differences. Though benthic invertebrate densities increased at headwater sites post-harvest, there were no detectable density differences at mainstem sites. Prey consumption by trout, whose densities at mainstem sites increased following harvest, possibly explained the lack of change observed for invertebrate densities.