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Measuring water and sediment discharge

Posted date: January 23, 2015
Publication Year: 
Authors: Black, Thomas A.; Luce, Charles H.;
Document type: Briefing Papers


Roads influence a variety of watershed processes, including sediment production, hydrologic event timing, and slope stability. As a consequence, water quality regulations and cumulative effects modeling of forest management have frequently focused on forest roads. Land managers and watershed specialists use models to predict sediment delivery from forest roads. These models are used to evaluate road sediment risks, but are limited by a lack of calibration data

Key findings:

  • Forest roads are the principle source of anthropogenic fine sediment entering streams on Forest Service lands. Determining how to efficiently quantify these sediment sources is of major concern for managers.
  • This method provides a simple and cost effective approach for documenting the local sediment production rate from forest roads.
  • Settling basins provide a simple and reliable system for monitoring road derived sediment production.
  • The installation, maintenance and measurement of five plots can be accomplished by a technician in less than a month.

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