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Hydrology, watersheds, sedimentation

Projects

Forest canopies exert a physical influence on the partitioning of precipitation into runoff versus evapotranspiration through several hydrologic processes. This project seeks to illuminate the ways that forest dynamics and disturbance affect hydrologic processes and availability of water for ecosystems and for people.  
This project incorporates historical data collected at the Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest nearly 100 years ago to determine how plant communities have changed over that period of time.
RMRS Research Biogeochemist Chuck Rhoades is partnering with Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest staff and Colorado State University researchers to develop a restoration plan for Greater sage-grouse habitat in California Park, near Hayden, Colorado. It is uncertain to National Forest System land managers whether the current vegetation patterns are a result of livestock grazing, historic herbicide use, elk browsing, or are due to underlying soil differences. Building a better understanding of these interacting factors will aid restoration activities.
The framework for restoring and conserving Great Basin wet meadows and riparian ecosystems builds upon long-term work by the research team on resilience of these ecosystems to stress and disturbance. Data and understanding of the resilience of watersheds, valley segments, and stream reaches for a large ecoregion (the central Great Basin) are being used to develop the Resilience-based Framework and to expand its applicability by assessing other common watershed types in the central and northern Great Basin.
Wildland fires in the arid west create a cause for concern for many inhabitants and an area of interest for researchers. Wildfires dramatically change watersheds, yielding floods and debris flows that endanger water supplies, human lives, and valuable fish habitats.
Flow gages* record discharge in streams and rivers across the U.S. but the extent and adequacy of this monitoring network relative to USFS lands has not been documented. To address that deficiency, the medium resolution National Hydrography Layer was used with gage location information from the National Water Information System to describe the monitoring network and how it has changed through time. Summaries were made for eight USFS regions that describe the number and locations of gages relative to USFS lands and network characteristics such as elevation and watershed area.
This NASA-sponsored project will test a variety of sensors and techniques used to collect and improve airborne and ground-based measurements to determine the snow-water equivalent (SWE), or the amount of water held in snow, over different terrains. This is significant because much of the worlds’, including the western U.S.’s water supply is derived from snow in mountain environments. Better information on SWE can improve hazard forecasting, water availability predictions, and agricultural forecasting, among other things. The SnowEx team includes more than 100 scientists from universities and agencies across the U.S., Europe, and Canada.
Knowing how environments might influence the degree and location of hybridization between these species represents a potentially powerful tool for managers. To address that need, we modeled how hybridization between westslope cutthroat trout and rainbow trout is influenced by stream characteristics that favor each species. On the Cutthroat trout-rainbow trout hybridization website, we describe that model, and provide high-resolution digital maps in user-friendly formats of the predictions of different levels of hybridization across the native range of westslope cutthroat trout in the Northern Rocky Mountains, representing both current conditions and those associated with warmer stream temperatures. Our goal is to help decision-makers gauge the potential for hybridization between cutthroat trout and rainbow trout when considering management strategies for conserving cutthroat trout.
In April, 2015 the Helena National Forest (HNF) requested that the Fire Modeling Institute conduct a wildfire probability modeling and risk assessment study to analyze proposed fuel treatments in the project area. The HNF requested this study include modeling the probability of burning, potential fire behavior, and identification of areas where large fires and/or fires potentially destructive to structures were most likely to originate.
The bull trout has a historical range that encompasses many waters across the Northwest. Though once abundant, bull trout have declined in many locations and is now federally listed and protected under the Endangered Species Act. Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists initiated the range-wide bull trout eDNA project in partnership with biologists from more than 20 organizations to create sound and precise information about the distribution of bull trout in thousands of streams across their range.

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