Long-term changes in streamflow following logging in western Oregon and associated fisheries implications

The long-term effect of logging on low summer streamflow was investigated with a data set of 36 years. Hydrologic records were analyzed for the period 1953 and 1988 from Watershed (WS) 1 (clear-cut logged and burned), WS 2 (unlogged control), and WS 3 (25 percent patch-cut logged and burned) in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, western Cascade Range, Oregon. These records spanned 9–10 years before logging, and 21–25 years after logging and burning. Streamfiows in August were the lowest of any month, and were unaffected by occasional heavy rain that occurred at the beginning of summer. August streamfiows increased in WS 1 compared to WS 2 by 159 percent following logging in WS 1, but this increase lasted for only eight years following the start of logging in 1962. Water yield in August for 1970–1988 observed from WS 1 was 25 percent less than predicted from the control (WS 2, ANOVA, p=0.032). Water yield in August increased by 59 percent after 25 percent of the area of WS 3 was patch-cut logged and burned in 1963. In contrast to WS 1, however, water yields from WS 3 in August were consistently greater than predicted for 16 years following the start of logging, through to 1978. For the 10 years, 1979–1988, water yield observed in August from WS 3 was not different than predicted from the control (WS 2, ANOVA, p-0.175). The contrasting responses of WS 1 and 3 to logging are thought to be the result of differences in riparian vegetation caused by different geomorphic conditions. A relatively wide valley floor in WS 1 allowed the development of hardwoods in the riparian zone following logging, but the narrow valley of WS 3 and limited sediment deposits prevented establishment of riparian hardwoods. Low streamflows during summer have implications for salmonid survival. Reduced streamflow reduces the amount of rearing habitat, thus increasing competition. Combined with high water temperatures, reduced streamflow can lead directly to salmonid mortality by driving salmonids from riffles and glides, and trapping them in drying pools. Low streamflow also increases oxygen depletion caused by leaves from riparian red alders.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Hicks, B.J., Beschta, R.L., & Harr, R.D. (1991). Long-term changes in streamflow following logging in western Oregon and associated fisheries implications. Water Resources Bulletin 27(2), 217-226.
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