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Stream Chemistry Network
Forested headwater streams provide high-quality water as one of their important
ecosystem services. Changes in land use and vegetation cover, as well as
natural processes and disturbances, affect water quality in these streams.
Disturbances such as logging or wildfires have been shown to increase stream
nutrient concentrations and fluxes, stream temperatures, and sediment output.
Because disturbances cascade through ecosystems to affect downstream users,
especially in watersheds that serve as sources of drinking water for communities,
national and regional water quality standards have been established to protect
water quality during forest management activities. Increased understanding
of natural water quality variability as well as responses to forest disturbance
across a range of environmental conditions throughout the nation are needed
for management of forest lands and setting goals to meet water quality criteria.
To meet this need, stream biochemistry data have been collected for decades
in watersheds in the Experimental Forests and Ranges (EFR) network. This
economic recovery project, led by Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station
scientist Sherri Johnson in conjunction with Charles Rhoades (Rocky Mountain
Research Station) and Stephen Sebestyen (Northern Research Station), is
a collaborative effort between U.S. Forest Service Research and Development,
universities, and the forest industry to compile and evaluate long-term
quality data from EFRs across the country. The long-term data from reference
and managed forests are being used to inform the development of the Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA) water quality criteria across states, as
well as to evaluate the effects of natural and anthropogenic forest disturbances
on various chemical and physical components of water exported from river
basins. A Web-based interactive program is being created to make the data
easily available to researchers and the public. Other partners include the
National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER)
network, and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI),
a research institute that focuses on environmental topics of interest to
the forest products industry.
Development, organization, and population of
the data base have progressed well, and a Web-based system for accessing
the data has been completed. The
information provided the basis for research articles on four topics:
- Long-term stream nitrogen trends in undisturbed watersheds.
- The relation
between seasonal stream chemistry and proposed numeric nutrient criteria.
chemistry responses to natural and anthropogenic disturbances.
of best methods to compare stream chemistry fluxes across a broad range
of long-term data sets and research sites.
For more information,
please see: http://www.fsl.orst.edu/efr/.