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Effects of historic forest disturbance on water quality and flow in the Interior Western U.S

Posted date: August 18, 2015
Publication Year: 
Authors: Matyjasik, M.; Moisen, Gretchen; Combe, C.; Hathcock, T.; Mitts, S.; Hernandez, M.; Frescino, Tracey; Schroeder, T.
Publication Series: 
Source: The International Forestry Review. 16(5): 408.


Water quality and flow is affected my many complex factors in the Interior Western U.S. While many studies focus on individual water parameters response to a limited number of changing conditions, little work looks at long term effects of diverse forest disturbances on a broader array of water quality and flow metrics. The U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis program (FIA) is responsible for inventorying status and trends in forested ecosystems nationwide. FIA is currently partnered with NASA and others to develop nationwide maps of forest disturbance annually using the historic Landsat data record. Historic forest disturbance maps have the potential to provide new insights into water resources problems. In this paper, we synthesize the existing literature relating water and forest disturbances. Using temporally dense water samples analyzed by both the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey in several focus areas in the Interior West, we indicate spatial temporary trends illustrating how forest disturbances affect surface water concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, total dissolved solids and suspended solids in conjunction with stream flow dynamics. Presented trends are used to make recommendations of possible use of historic forest disturbance maps coupled with FIA data to predict future effects of forest disturbance on water.


Matyjasik, M.; Moisen, G.; Combe, C.; Hathcock, T.; Mitts, S.; Hernandez, M.; Frescino, T.; Schroeder, T. 2014. Effects of historic forest disturbance on water quality and flow in the Interior Western U.S. The International Forestry Review. 16(5): 408.