For the first time, a collaborative study [http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/014039] has compared water quality trends in forested streams across the country that are largely undisturbed by land use or land cover changes. The study draws on 559 years of stream nitrate and 523 years of stream ammonium data from 22 streams in 7 experimental forests across the country. The study found that even near-pristine forested streams are subject to change.
The Kings River Experimental Watersheds hosts the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory--a National Science Foundation effort to gain a better understanding of the zone of earth where "rock meets life." The critical zone extends from the tops of the trees to the groundwater and covers the entire earth where there is land. Dowload the video created by a UA Flandrau Science Center team to introduce the motivation and science involved in the National Critical Zone Observatory research program.
Kings River Experimental Watersheds (KREW)
The condition of fuels in a forest stand can have significant effects on fire intensity and frequency, which in turn can have significant effects on plant and animal communities of the forest. Adequate characterization of the variability in fuel loads is necessary for pre- and post-treatment comparisons and for input to fire models. It may be possible to correlate certain observed effects in nutrient flow, stream biotic composition, or floral and faunal composition with differences in fuel loading. Characterizing the fuel loading can also contribute to conclusions about the effectiveness of prescribed fire versus mechanical thinning.
A thorough sampling of the fuels condition will be conducted at a subset of the established 150-meter grid points following Brown (1974). Sampling will occur once before treatments and at least once after treatments. Further details concerning sampling intensity and frequency have yet to be determined. For specifics concerning fire and fuel loading, see the KREW Study Plan (Hunsaker et al. 2004).
Brown, J.K. 1974. Handbook for Inventorying Downed Woody Material. USDA Forest Service GTR: INT-16, Ogden, UT.