Skip to Main Content
Forest harvesting and water: the Lake States experienceAuthor(s): Elon S. Verry
Source: Water Resources Bulletin. 22(6): 1039-1047.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
PDF: View PDF (756.95 KB)
DescriptionThe impact of forests on water has been a subject of argument for more than a century. It still is; and many studies conform that there is no single right answer in the debate. In the Lake States, clearcutting natural peatlands will not change annual streamflow nor will it seriously impact water quality if logging is done on frozen soils. However, clearcutting will cause water tables to fluctuate more, ranging from 9 cm higher to 19 cm lower than in peatlands with mature forests. Clearcutting upland hardwoods or conifers will increase annual streamflow by 9 to 20 cm (a 30- to 80-percent increase). Streamflow returns to preharvest levels in 12 to 15 years. Annual peak flows are at least doubled and snowmelt flood-peak increases may persist for 15 years. Water quality is not widely impacted, but operating logging equipment in stream channels will cause channel clogging by filamentous algae and loss of fish habitat. Permanent changes from forest to agricultural and urban land use on two- thirds or more of a watershed will significantly increase the size of flood peaks in the 2- to 30-year return interval storm or snowmelt.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationVerry, Elon S. 1986. Forest harvesting and water: the Lake States experience. Water Resources Bulletin. 22(6): 1039-1047.
Keywordsclearcutting, streamflow, forest fire, water quality, peatlands, wetlands, uplands, water yield
- The effect of aspen harvest and growth on water yield in Minnesota
- The effect of timber harvest on the Fool Creek watershed, 30 years later
- Hydrologic consequences of logging second-growth redwood watersheds
XML: View XML