Modern forest practices have helped to protect streams and riparian zones, but more needs to be learned about the implications of such practices as thinning or partial cuts development of "best management" practices could help balance timber harvest with sustainable water flow and quality.
And global warming, which affects timing and amount of snowmelt runoff, wildfires, and insect and disease outbreaks, is a huge variable.
The study also cited the value of watershed councils and citizen groups in getting more people involved in water, stream and land management issues at a local level, increasing the opportunities for all views to be considered, and conflicts avoided.
Support for this project, which involved numerous representatives from academia and private industry in the U.S. and Canada, was provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. The National Research Council is operated by the National Academy of Sciences. This is one of the first major studies on forests and water since a U.S. Forest Service project in 1976, the authors noted.
"Times have changed," the authors wrote in the report. "Thirty years ago, no one would have imagined that clearcutting on public lands in the Pacific Northwest would come to a screeching halt; or that farmers would give up water for endangered fish and birds; or that climate change would produce quantifiable changes in forest structure, species and water supplies."
Those changes demanded a new assessment of current conditions, an understanding of rising tensions, and an evaluation of future needs, the researchers said.
|Contact: Julia Jones|
Oregon State University