Forest Service Research / Rocky Mountain Research Station / Flagstaff Lab / Southwest Watershed Science Team - Hot Topics

Southwest Watershed Science Team

Hot Topics

Here at the Southwest Science Team of the Air, Water and Aquatic Environments (AWAE) Program of the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Flagstaff, AZ, we are concerned with the various components of healthy semi-arid watersheds and their ecological linkages and interactions. For instance, we investigate the impacts of cattle grazing on watersheds and riparian zones relative to elk grazing impacts. We analyze and determine the best riparian restoration techniques. We determine the ecological consequences of non-indigenous fish and exotic plant invasions and what are the best means of control for these issues. We study the effects of cattle and elk management and current fire regimes on native fish populations and their habitats.

The AWAE team also investigates the hydrologic and geomorphic consequences of wildfire and fuels management options in Southwest forest and woodland ecosystems. We measure to what extent post-wildfire flood peaks flows increase and can this increase be modeled and used in a management context. We also examine what landscape scales are post-wildfire peak flows the most hazardous. We research the impact of prescribed fires and wildfires on changes in short-term and long-term water yields.

The AWAE team is involved in determining what is required to develop, validate and test methods for monitoring rangeland, watershed, and riparian ecosystems of the semi-arid Intermountain West. We look at the affects and accuracy of various sampling methods and technology that estimate fish populations. We also look at the best monitoring methods for assessing ungulate impacts to riparian zones and the best indicators of riparian and rangeland health and how it should be monitored. We examine the remote sensing techniques that are useful for monitoring watershed and riparian ecosystems.

We enjoy being at the forefront of technologies and approaches that are needed to develop dynamic electronic information and decision-making tools. We strive to swiftly bring this information and other educational programming to the public about semi-arid watershed management.

The web-pages below provide more examples of specific research we are currently conducting:

Examples of landscapes and SMZs with moderate surface roughness: Eucalyptus nitens stand (Photos by Daniel G. Neary, CSIRO and USDA Forest Service).

Streamside Management Zones

Schultz Fire as seen from Cheshire. Photo Credit: USFS Schultz Wildfire 2010
Recreation and riparian areas.  Photo by Malchus Baker Threats Assessment for Western Riparian Ecosystems:
An Annotated Bibliography
Historic Photo. Sierra Ancha, AZ. 1947. Photo By: Rex King Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest
Cascabel Fire. Photo credit USFS Cascabel Watershed Study


Page contact: Dan Neary | AWAE Science Team, Flagstaff - RMRS