The Forest Service is assessing watersheds by analyzing the elements of an ecosystem within the watersheds of our national forests. This helps us to better understand our ecosystems on a larger scale that shifts our focus from species and sites to the ecosystems that support them. It is essentially ecosystem analysis at the watershed scale.
The watershed assessments characterize the human, aquatic, and terrestrial resources and the interactions between these parts of the ecosystem within the watershed. It provides a systematic way to understand and organize ecosystem information. These assessments enhance our ability to estimate the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of management activities. The assessment help guide the general type, location, and sequence of appropriate management activities.
Watershed assessments are not decision-making processes, and are not driven by existing law. Rather, it is a stage-setting process. The results of assessments establish the context for subsequent site-specific actions needed to implement the Forest Plan. Site-specific actions must then undergo planning requirements consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other applicable laws, regulations, and direction.
Information about this process can be found in the “Ecosystem Analysis at the Watershed Scale” (USDA, 1995) and “A Framework for Analyzing the Hydrologic Condition of Watersheds” (USDA, 1998).
2011 Watershed Assessments
Cooper Creek Watershed (1.2MB Acrobat PDF)
Sumac Creek Watershed (8.8MB Acrobat PDF)
Upper Warwoman Watershed (2.3MB Acrobat PDF)