Utah Sustainable Ecosystem Restoration Partnership - Hydrologic Functions


This web page provides information about the hydrologic portion of this larger project.
Project Duration: 1-Jul-2003 - 30-Jun-2004 and ongoing

Principal Investigators:
Michael Gooseff (Penn State University)
Ron Ryel (Utah State University)
Helga VanMiegroet (Utah State University)

Overview: Prolonged drought in the Intermountain West has led to renewed interest in vegetation manipulation in wild land watersheds for the purpose of increasing water yields. Such proposals have the potential to induce many physical, geochemical, and biological responses that, in turn, could dramatically alter regional ecosystems.. For example, there is potential for increased sediment delivery from hill slopes, renewed channel incision, and shifts in abundance and type of forage for wildlife and livestock. Vegetation manipulation might also fail to significantly increase water yields if changes in plant communities do not significantly alter evapotranspiration rates or soil water runoff/retention. In addition, vegetation manipulation for increasing water yields has the potential to create resource use conflicts with a variety of user groups affected by these actions. Thus, there is no doubt that sound ecosystem science must guide the implementation of large-scale vegetation manipulation in wild land watersheds. The absence of such science will put policy makers and environmental impact analysts in a difficult position, because they will be unable to describe to the public the costs and benefits of large-scale vegetation treatments.
bear canyon
Looking east, up Bear Canyon, September 2003.
bear canyon
Small side stream entering Bear Canyon Stream.

We propose that vegetation restoration will influence the residence time distribution of water within a catchment because connectivity among stores of water (soil water, groundwater, etc) will be significantly influenced. Thus, we are and will continue to monitor stream water, soil water, and precipitation ion and isotope characteristics. We intend to develop residence time distributions for these catchments prior to and after manipulation to determine how the hydrology of the catchment is altered.

Location: Our current field site is in the Northern Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Two headwater basins to the Ogden River have been instrumented with stream gauges. Both catchments are roughly 1000 acres and both are on Deseret Land and Livestock property.


Graduate Students:
Conference Presentations:
Gooseff, MN, B Shakespeare, H Van Miegroet, and R Ryel. 2005. Hydrology and climate in a paired watershed study in Northern Utah. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT.

Shakespeare, B, H Van Miegroet, and MN Gooseff. 2005. Linking landscapes with seasonal recession discharge. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT.

Shakespeare, B, and MN Gooseff. 2005. Landscape characteristics and variations in longitudinal stream flow contribution in two headwater semi-arid mountain watersheds. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA.


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Current weather at Woodruff, Utah (nearby):
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This project is currently funded through:

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This page was created on 03-Jan-2004.
This page was last updated on 07-Sept-2007.

Questions? mgooseff@engr.psu.edu