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Long-term forest watershed studies in the Southwest: recycled for wildfire and prescribed fire

Neary, Daniel G.; Gottfried, Gerald J.; Ffolliott, Peter F.; Poff, Boris. 2012. Long-term forest watershed studies in the Southwest: recycled for wildfire and prescribed fire. Hydrology and Water Resources in Arizona and the Southwest. 42: 55-60.

A hydrologic research network was established in Arizona in the 1950s and 1960s called the Arizona Watershed Program (Baker et al. 1999). It consisted of a number of public agencies and private groups interested in obtaining more water for future economic growth while maintaining the State's watersheds in good condition. As part of the Program. paired watershed studies were established at Workman Creek, Three-Bar, Whitespar, Mingus Mountain, Battle Flat. Beaver Creek, Castle Creek, Willow Creek, Thomas Creek, Seven Springs, and Stermer Ridge. Initially, most of the research emphasis was on water yield and silvicultural manipulations to increase streamflow for large water supply reservoirs. In the early 1980s the active data collection on 43 watersheds was shut down, but most of the gauging structures remained in-place. By the mid-1990s, wildfire area and severity increased an order of magnitude, and prescribed lire was reintroduced into Southwest forests to reduce fuel loads that were contributing to the increases in wildfire (DeBano et al. 1998). Concerns were raised about the effects of fire on water yield and water quality since little information was available on fire effects (Neary et al. 2005). Starting in 2000, a series of wildfires progressively burned over some of the Arizona Watershed Program watersheds. That year, the Coon Creek Fire burned over the Workman Creek four watersheds in the Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest on the Tonto National Forest (Gottfried and Neary 2001, 2002, 2003; Neary and Gottfried 2002). In 2002, the very large, landscape-scale Rodeo-Chediski Fire burned the Stermer Ridge watersheds on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The even larger Wallow Fire of 2011, also on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, burned all or parts of Willow Creek, Castle Creek, Thomas Creek, and Seven Springs watersheds.

Keywords: forest watershed, hydrologic research, wildfire, prescribed fire

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Long-term forest watershed studies in the Southwest: recycled for wildfire and prescribed fire
Electronic Publish Date: October 17, 2013
Last Update:
October 17, 2013

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