The Alsea Watershed Study Revisited in the Oregon Coast Range provided a unique opportunity to investigate and compare the stream temperature responses to contemporary forest harvesting practices (i.e., maintenance of riparian vegetation) with the impacts from historical (1960s) harvesting practices (i.e., no riparian vegetation).
Changes to summer low flows from forest harvesting were measured for a gauged fourth-order stream in the Hinkle Creek Paired Watershed Study. At the gauged stream, August streamflow increased an average of 1.9 mm/year (45%) for the three summers following forest harvest of 13% of a 1,084 ha watershed. Following a second harvest of an additional 13% of the watershed the August streamflow increased by 4.5 mm (106%) the first summer and 2.0 mm (47%) the second summer. Master recession curves were fit to the gauged watersheds and the resulting recession coefficients were used to predict low flows from small watersheds nested within the gauged watersheds. The estimated low flows were used to evaluate changes in summer low flows associated with forest harvest for the small watersheds. Using recession curve analysis, the estimated range of the increase for average August streamflow for the four small watersheds in the Hinkle Creek Paired Watershed Study was 1.7 mm to 4.4 mm the first summer following forest harvest. August streamflow in the small watersheds was not distinguishable from preharvest levels within 5 years for all but one watershed, which had the highest proportion of watershed area harvested.
Little is known on the importance of riparian areas to birds near small headwater streams in mesic forests. Progress towards understanding limiting factors that affect bird populations has been difficult because of lack of information beyond the breeding period. I compared bird assemblages between headwater riparian and upland areas throughout the post-breeding period by capturing birds using mist-nets in six paired riparian and upland locations along six headwater streams of the Trask River in northwestern Oregon. In order to assess whether birds prefer headwater riparian areas, I also examined factors affecting habitat selection by juvenile Swainson's thrushes (n=37) using radio telemetry. While riparian and upland locations had similar coarse wood volume and fruiting and tall (> 1.3 m tall) shrub cover, riparian locations had less shrub cover (< 1.3 m tall) and different shrub composition than upland locations. Total capture rate was double that of upland in riparian locations, while bird species richness was similar. Similar numbers of birds were captured in mist-nets oriented perpendicular and parallel to the stream suggesting that birds were not using riparian areas as movement corridors. Adult capture rate was greater in riparian locations than adjacent uplands while results of juvenile capture rates were ambiguous. Riparian locations supported higher capture rates of Swainson's thrushes and winter wrens than adjacent uplands.
We investigated the effect of contemporary forest harvesting practices on warm-season thermal regimes of headwater streams using a Before-After-Control-Intervention (BACI) design within a nested, paired watershed study. We applied harvesting treatments to four headwater tributaries of Hinkle Creek, designed in accordance with the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Therefore, fixed-width buffer strips containing overstory merchantable trees were not left adjacent to the four non-fish-bearing streams. The summer following harvesting, we observed a variable temperature response across the four harvested streams. Mean maximum daily stream temperatures ranged from 1.5 C cooler to 1.0 C warmer relative to pre-harvest years. We also observed significantly lower minimum and mean daily stream temperatures, and recorded particularly low temperatures in treatment streams on days that minimum stream temperatures in reference streams were high. At the watershed scale, we did not observe cumulative stream temperature effects related to harvesting 14% of the watershed area in multiple, spatially-distributed harvest units across four headwater catchments. At the watershed outlet, we observed no change to maximum, mean, or minimum daily stream temperatures. We attribute the lack of consistent temperature increases in headwater streams to shading provided by a layer of logging slash that deposited over the streams during harvesting, and to increased summer baseflows.