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Project ID: 01-3-3-18

Year: 2002

Date Started: 01/25/2002

Date Completed: 07/27/2006

Title: Evaluating the Effects of Prescribed Fire and Fuels Treatment on Water Quality and Aquatic Habitat

Project Proposal Abstract: A variety of treatments have been proposed to reduce long-term risks to forests from wildfire. In the interior Columbia Basin, the proposed treatments are often motivated by potential threats to water quality and threatened or endangered salmonids. Management plans for the basin assume that the direct effects of wildfires, as well as wildfire-related erosion and sedimentation of streams, are greater threats to water quality and fish habitat than are the effects qQls treatments. However, there is a critical lack of empirical data to support this assumption. Further fewer data are available from areas of volcanic parent materials or volcanic-ash-derived soils - the soil types most common in central and eastern Oregon - that can be used to design management treatments or provide science support for updating forest plans. Current planning and assessment tools are limited, utilizing surface erosion predictions developed for other regions and based on data from studies of past logging and road building practices. The lack of data limits the ability of USFS units to plan and implement fuels reduction treatments in municipal watersheds that supply drinking water or in watersheds with listed salmonids. This study is designed to examine the effects of mechanical fuel treatments and prescribed fire on surface erosion and stream sedimentation. Study sites will be located in the Skookum Experimental Watersheds and the Mill Creek Municipal watershed where fuels reduction and prescribed burning treatments are already planned. The Skookum watersheds have been gauged and baseline data are available for stream discharge and sediment yield. The Mill Creek watershed is a highly controlled enviroment where other forest management activities are extremely limited. We will measure hilislope erosion, surface-sediment transport, and sediment delivery to streams on control and treatment sites within these watersheds for one year prior to treatment, and for two years post treatment. Data will be used to refine erosion and sediment delivery models used in planning and assessing management activities.

Principal Investigator: Caty F. Clifton

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: Umatilla National Forest

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Robin M. Harris

Forest Service

Umatilla National Forest


Charles Hosapple

Forest Service

Umatilla National Forest


Phil Howell

Forest Service

PNW-Forestry & Range Sciences Lab-LaGrande


Peter R. Robichaud

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Moscow


Deanna Stouder

Forest Service

WO-Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants

Federal Cooperator

Steven M. Wondzell

Forest Service

PNW-Forestry Sciences Lab-Olympia

Federal Fiscal Representative

Roxi Lovell

Forest Service

Umatilla National Forest

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Northern Rockies


There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
    601 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Presentations will be made at regional meetings and workshops held by the land management agencies, including the annual meeting of R6 Hydrologists and Fish Biologists.

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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