USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics Water and Watersheds

Kings River Experimental Watersheds:
Participating Programs
Contributing Scientists and Staff
Highlighted Research

Kings River Experimental Watersheds (KREW)

KREW Location: Teakettle Experimental Forest

Beginning in 1936, three potential experimental watersheds were the subjects of intensive geology and soil studies: Onion Creek (Tahoe National Forest), and Big Creek and Teakettle Creek (Sierra National Forest). In 1938 a 1,300 ha area surrounding Teakettle Creek was designated the Teakettle Experimental Area and five drainages were chosen for study.

Historic Research

Empty wier pond and wier located in the Teakettle Experimental Forest, August 21, 1957
Stream-gauging stations and sediment basins were built and hydrology research begun. Research halted during World War II (1942-1956). In 1957 studies were reactivated and regular records of snowfall and water yields were collected again. The area was officially designated “The Teakettle Creek Experimental Forest” on 16 December 1958 (North et al. 2002).

The objective of the experimental forest was to develop timber harvest patterns that would increase water yield. However, studies completed in the 1950s and 1960s at Yuba Pass and Sagehen Creek suggested moderate forest cover removal had little effect on water yield in the Sierra Nevada. In the 1960s the focus of Teakettle research switched to water flow measurements in relation to weather patterns. This study was continued into the 1980s until the Forest Service stopped the study because of budget constraints and the logistics of maintaining a remote site. The stream discharge records are on the U.S. Geologic Survey web site for the years that USGS ran the site. The more recent data records (paper and digital) exist for the years that the Forest Service ran the site but are not quality-assured for distribution.

Current Research

Teakettle (T003) during winter 2004 water is primarly measured in the 90 degree V-notch wierTo compare the effects of different levels of thinning and burning on mixed-conifer ecosystems, an experiment was initiated in 1998 called the Teakettle Ecosystem Experiment (North et al. 2002). As a precursor to this experiment, an extensive analysis of vegetation condition at Teakettle was made to map and identify different forest communities. The eastern side of Teakettle has 18 4-ha plots for this experiment (three replicates each of understory thin/no burn, overstory thin/no burn, burn only, understory thin/burn, overstory thin/burn, control). Data collection continues on the effect of these treatments (

Four of the original stream gauging sites remain and were not impacted by the Teakettle Ecosystem Experiment. Since the Teakettle Experimental Forest was started as a hydrologic study, it provides a unique long-term record regarding stream discharge and sediment loads from a headwater, mixed-conifer forest with little disturbance. While this area has had cattle grazing and fire suppression, it has few roads and no history of timber harvesting. All four of the stream gauging sites were evaluated and three were determined to be in good structural condition. The Kings River Experimental Watershed (Hunsaker and Eagan 2003) selected one of these watersheds (TK3) as a control for the Bull Site and renovated the facility in 2003. This watershed began data collection in October 2003 as part of KREW.