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Hydrologic Effects of a Changing Forest Landscape
ground that improve forest and rangeland health and provide benefits to communities. For example, stewardship contracting allows private organizations or businesses to do thinning and remove small trees and undergrowth; as partial payment, they are able to keep part of what they remove (http://www.forestsandrangelands.gov/stewardship/index.shtml#projects). Although many contracts focus on reducing fire risk, example projects also include objectives specifying effects on water from forests, such as “to reduce fuel levels and improve water quality consistent with healthy forest and watershed conditions,” or “to improve wildlife habitat, restore sagebrush-steppe habitat, and improve water flow through drainages,” or “removal of ponderosa pine and juniper, both of which invaded the riparian corridors and related drainages and are currently out-competing native riparian species.”
Recommendations for Community Engagement with Industry and FederalAgencies
Communities should use public comment opportunities to provide information about the effects of forest management plans on local communities.
Communities should develop and promote forest certification programs that consider the effects of forest management on water resources.
Communities should engage in forest stewardship contracting with federal agencies and promote scientifically rigorous monitoring of these forest stewardship contracting projects to determine their effects on water quantity and quality.
MOVING FORWARD: FOREST HYDROLOGY SCIENCEAND MANAGEMENT IN THE 21STCENTURY
This review and assessment of the state of forest hydrology knowledge at the beginning of the twenty-first century provides major findings regarding the current understanding of forest hydrology as well as information gaps and research needs to advance forest hydrology from principles to predictions for management. It also offers recommendations to meet those research needs for forest hydrology science and management (Table 5-1).
Forest hydrology science has produced a solid understanding of the general principles and basic processes of how water is connected to and moves through forests. The current forest landscape is dynamic due to changing demographics, climate patterns, land use and ownership, and the increased demand for water. Forest science and management are adapting as the land uses and land ownership within forested watersheds become more heterogeneous, changes in climate and its effects are becoming more evident, and it is easier to visualize cumulative watershed effects over larger spatial scales and longer periods of time. The strong foundation of general principles and basic processes in forest hydrology can be applied to meet research needs and fill information gaps over the coming decades.