General Technical Report
program for watershed research in California's coniferous
forests below the snow zone was proposed in 1960 by
Henry W. Anderson (Anderson 1960). On July 1, 1961,
cooperative watershed management research in this lower conifer zone
was started by the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Forest
and Range Experiment Station (now Pacific Southwest Research
Station [PSW]), with formal cooperation of the State of California's
Division of Forestry (now Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
[CDF]) and the Department of Water Resources. The Caspar Creek
study, formally described as "Study 2-1, a study of logging effects
upon streamflow, sedimentation, fish life and fish habitat in the
north coast redwood-Douglas-fir forest type Jackson State Forest,
Fort Bragg, California," was one of the first studies undertaken by
PSW's new Lower Conifer Research Unit. By October 1, 1961,
bedrock stream gaging sites had been located in two tributaries of
Caspar Creek, maximum (peak) stage and staff gages and five
standard raingages had been installed, and weekly suspended
sediment samples and stage heights had been collected (Hopkins and
Bowden 1962). The California Department of Water Resources,
working with PSW, CDF, and State of California Department of Fish
and Game, designed the streamgaging weirs and fish ladders.
Cement, reinforcing steel, and aggregate were purchased by PSW, and
the weirs were built by CDF in summer 1962. The North and
South Fork weirs began operation on October 1, 1962.
The first agreement between PSW and CDF "providing
for cooperation in the conduct of a program of watershed management
to determine the effect of forest management upon
streamflow, sedimentation, fish, fish habitat, timber and other vegetative
growth" became effective January 12, 1962. This agreement
(12-11-0215-19) was amended with an annual work plan each year from 1962 to
1997. In 1998, a new agreement was approved.
The Caspar Creek Experimental Watersheds, as they
were designated in 1962, consist of the 424-ha South Fork and
473-ha North Fork. These two tributary basins are located in the
headwaters of the 2,167-ha Caspar Creek watershed, which discharges into
the Pacific Ocean near the community of Caspar
(fig. 1). Logging roads were built into the South Fork in 1967. The entire South
Fork watershed was selectively harvested and tractor yarded; about
one third in 1971, 1972, and 1973, respectively (Henry,
these proceedings). In 1985, 13 additional streamgaging stations
were constructed in the North Fork. The North Fork was clearcut logged
in large patches in 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, and 1991
(figs. 1, 2). The subwatersheds of the North Fork and the 14 gaging
stations, raingages, subsurface and piping sites, solar radiometer, and
splash dam (fig. 2) are described in the papers that follow.
Much of the data collected during this study's 37 years
are available on CD-ROM from PSW's Redwood Sciences
Laboratory, at Arcata, California (Ziemer 1998). This data set and its
earlier release are a valuable resource to researchers, educators,
and students around the world and are unique in detail and resolution.
Figure 1 The Caspar Creek Experimental Watershed is located in northern California.
Figure 2 North Fork Caspar Creek watershed.
These Proceedings are the written product of the
Conference on Coastal Watersheds: The Caspar Creek
Story, organized by Bill Baxter (California Department of Forestry and
Fire Protection), Liz Keppeler (Pacific Southwest Research Station),
and Greg Giusti (University of California Extension). The Conference
was held May 6, 1998 at the Mendocino Community College in
Ukiah, California and was attended by about 400 persons. The next day,
75 individuals participated in a field trip through the North Fork
of Caspar Creek. Attendance at both the Conference and the field
trip was limited by seating capacity, and a number of potential
registrants were turned away because of lack of space. The number of
attendees attests to the keen interest in the effects of forest practices on
the hydrologic responses of forested watersheds.
These Proceedings summarize 36 years of watershed research
at Caspar Creek and include an annotated bibliography of the
107 papers that report the details of studies conducted during
this cooperative venture. Further information concerning the
Caspar Creek study can be found at the Redwood Sciences
Laboratory Internet site at http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/rsl
Anderson, H.W. 1960. Proposed program for watershed management research
in the lower conifer zone of California. Tech. Paper 46. Berkeley, CA:
Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Forest Service,
U.S. Department of Agriculture; 21 p.
Hopkins, Walt; Bowden, Kenneth L. 1962. First progress report,
1961-1962, cooperative watershed management in the lower conifer zone of
California. Berkeley, CA: Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station,
Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; 10 p.
Ziemer, R. 1998. Caspar Creek hydrologic and climatic data:
1963-1997. CD-ROM, 545 MB. 1998 May. Arcata, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station,
Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Fort Bragg, CA:
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Robert R. Ziemer