Planning for an uncertain future - Monitoring, integration, and adaptation

Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5049
Edited by: Richard M. Webb and Darius J. Semmens



The 6.7 billion human inhabitants of the earth have the ability to drastically alter ecosystems and the populations of species that have taken eons to evolve. By better understanding how our actions affect the environment, we stand a better chance of designing successful strategies to manage ecosystems sustainably. Toward this end, the Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds (ICRW) was convened in Estes Park, CO, on September 8-11, 2008. The Conference provided a forum to present adaptive management as a practical tool for learning how to manage complex ecosystems more sustainably. Further complexity introduced by spatially variable and continuously changing environmental drivers favors this management approach because of its emphasis on adaptation in response to changing conditions or ineffective actions. For climate change in particular, an adaptive approach can more effectively accommodate the uncertainty in future climate scenarios. Scenarios compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are built on distinct economic, energy, and societal models. The scenarios predict potential changes in greenhouse gases, temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric aerosols, which would have direct or indirect impacts on the timing, volume, and quality of runoff, vegetation, snowpack, stream temperature, groundwater, thawing permafrost, and icecaps. Through presentations and field trips, researchers and stakeholders described how their findings and issues fit into the adaptive management 'learning by doing' paradigm of Assess > Design > Implement > Monitor > Evaluate > Adjust > Assess.

Table of Contents

Plenary Sessions


U.S. Forest Service Research and Development Agency Update—From the Forest to the Faucet, by K. Elder and D. Hayes......13

American Indian Tribes and the Development of Water Resources, by D. Cordalis......14

Contributions of the University Community to Watershed Research, by R.P. Hooper, D.R. Maidment, and D.B. Kirschtel ......15

The Finger Lakes Watershed Environmental Network (FLoWEN)—A Web Services– Based Approach to Environmental Monitoring Data Management, by R. LopezTorrijos, F. Pieper, and B. Houston......16

Manuscripts ......17

Managing the Uncertainties on the Colorado River System, by E. Kuhn......19

Adaptive Management of Watersheds and Related Resources, by B.K. Williams......27

The National Wildlife Refuge System and Resource Management in a Watershed Context, by A. Loranger......35

Selected Achievements, Science Directions, and New Opportunities for the WEBB Small Watershed Research Program, by P.D. Glynn, M.C. Larsen, E.A. Greene, H.L. Buss, D.W. Clow, R.J. Hunt, M.A. Mast, S.F. Murphy, N.E. Peters, S.D. Sebestyen, J.B. Shanley, and J.F. Walker......39

Climate Change Adaptation Lessons from the Land of Dry Heat, by G. Garfin, K. Jacobs, and J. Buizer ......53

An Ecosystem Services Framework for Multidisciplinary Research in the Colorado River Headwaters, by D.J. Semmens, J.S. Briggs, and D.A. Martin ......59

Engaging Stakeholders for Adaptive Management Using Structured Decision Analysis, by E.R. Irwin and K.D.M. Kennedy......65

Climate, Geology, and Geomorphology


Considerations in Defining Climate Change Scenarios for Water Resources Planning, by L.D. Brekke ......71

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in the Yukon River Basin through a Synergistic Research Approach, by M. Walvoord, P. Schuster, and R. Striegl......72

Impacts of Coalbed Methane Development on Water Quantity and Quality in the Powder River Basin, by G.B. Paige and L.C. Munn.......74

Paleoflood Research of South Boulder Creek Basin near Boulder, Colorado, by R.D. Jarrett and J.C. Ferris ......75

Manuscripts ......77

The Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds, 8-11 September 2008, Estes Park, CO Evaluating Hydrological Response to Forecasted Land-Use Change—Scenario Testing with the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) Tool, by W.G. Kepner, D.J. Semmens, M. Hernandez, and D.C. Goodrich......79

Environmental Effects of Hydrothermal Alteration and Historical Mining on Water and Sediment Quality in Central Colorado, by S.E. Church, D.L. Fey, T.L. Klein, T.S. Schmidt, R.B. Wanty, E.H. DeWitt, B.W. Rockwell, and C.A. SanJuan ...... 85

U.S. Geological Survey Research in Handcart Gulch, Colorado—An Alpine Watershed with Natural Acid-Rock Drainage, by A.H. Manning, J.S. Caine, P.L. Verplanck, D.J. Bove, and K.G. Kahn ......97

Water Quality Impacts from Agricultural Land Use in Karst Drainage Basins of SW Kentucky and SW China, by T.W. Baker and C.G. Groves......103

Impacts of Forest Management on Runoff and Erosion, by W.J. Elliot and B.D. Glaza.... 117 Modeled Watershed Runoff Associated with Variations in Precipitation Data, with Implications for Contaminant Fluxes—Initial Results, by H.E. Golden, C.D. Knightes, E.J. Cooter, and R.L. Dennis ......129

Post-Fire Watershed Response at the Wildland-Urban Interface, Southern California, by P.M. Wohlgemuth, K.R. Hubbert, J.L. Beyers, and M.G. Narog ......137

Hydrology, Biogeochemistry, and Ecology


Isotopic Signatures of Precipitation Quantify the Importance of Different Climate Patterns to the Hydrologic Budget—An Example from the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico, by M.A. Scholl and J.B. Shanley ......145

Mercury Cycling Research Using the Small Watershed Approach, by J. Shanley and A. Chalmers ......146


Soil Evaporative Response to Lehmann Lovegrass Eragrostis lehmanniana Invasion in a Semiarid Watershed, by M.S. Moran, E.P. Hamerlynck, R.L. Scott, W.E. Emmerich, and C.D. Holifield Collins......149

Using a Coupled Groundwater/Surface-Water Model to Predict Climate-Change Impacts to Lakes in the Trout Lake Watershed, Northern Wisconsin, by J.F. Walker, R.J. Hunt, S.L. Markstrom, L.E. Hay, and J. Doherty......155

Using Passive Capillary Samplers to Collect Soil-Meltwater Endmembers for Stable Isotope Analysis, by M.D. Frisbee, F.M. Phillips, A.R. Campbell, and J.M.H. Henrickx ......163

Using High Frequency Sampling to Detect Effects of Atmospheric Pollutants on Stream Chemistry, by S.D. Sebestyen, J.B. Shanley, and E.W. Boyer......171

Flowpath Contributions of Weathering Products to Stream Fluxes at the Panola Mountain Research Watershed, Georgia, by N.E. Peters and B.T. Aulenbach ......177

Responses of Benthic Macroinvertebrates to Urbanization in Nine Metropolitan Areas of the Conterminous United States, by T.F. Cuffney, G. McMahon, R. Kashuba, J.T. May, and I.R. Waite ....... 187

Aquatic Ecosystems in Central Colorado Are Influenced by Mineral Forming Processes and Historical Mining, by T.S. Schmidt, S.E. Church, W.H. Clements, K.A. Mitchell, D.L. Fey, R.B. Wanty, P.L. Verplanck, C.A. San Juan, T.L. Klein, E.H. DeWitt, and B.W. Rockwell ......195

Timber Harvest and Turbidity in North Coastal California Watersheds, by R.D. Klein...... 207

The Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds, 8-11 September 2008, Estes Park, CO ix Facilitating Adaptive Management in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through the Use of Online Decision Support Tools, by C. Mullinix, S. Phillips, K. Shenk, P. Hearn, and O. Devereux ......213

Poster Session and Field Trip Orientation


Reflections on the July 31, 1976, Big Thompson Flood, Colorado Front Range, USA, by R.D. Jarrett and J.E. Costa ...... 221

Climate-Induced Changes in High Elevation Nitrogen Dynamics, by J.S. Baron, T.M. Schmidt, and M.D. Hartman...... 222

Potential Climate Impacts on the Hydrology of High Elevation Catchments, Colorado Front Range, by M.W. Williams, K.H. Hill, N. Caine, J.R. Janke, and T. Kittel...... 223

Manuscripts ......225

Monitoring Hydrological Changes Related to Western Juniper Removal—A Paired Watershed Approach, by T.L. Deboodt, M.P. Fisher, J.C. Buckhouse, and J. Swanson ...... 227

A Study on Seed Dispersal by Hydrochory in Floodplain Restoration, by H. Hayashi, Y. Shimatani, and Y. Kawaguchi......233

Lessons Learned in Calibrating and Monitoring a Paired Watershed Study in Oregon’s High Desert, by M. Fisher, T. Deboodt, J. Buckhouse, and J. Swanson...... 237

Hydrologic Instrumentation and Data Collection in Wyoming, by G.B. Paige, S.N. Miller, T.J. Kelleners, and S.T. Gray......241

Advanced Spatial and Temporal Rainfall Analyses for Use in Watershed Models, by D. Hultstrand, T. Parzybok, E. Tomlinson, and B. Kappel...... 245

Primary Factors Affecting Water Quality and Quantity in Four Watersheds in Eastern Puerto Rico, by S.F. Murphy and R.F. Stallard ......251

Human Impacts and Management


The Importance of Considering Aquifer Susceptibility and Uncertainty in Developing Water Management and Policy Guidelines, by T. Wellman ......259

Water Quality Screening Tools—A Practical Approach, by B. Houston and R. Klosowski .......260

Herbicide Transport Trends in Goodwater Creek Experimental Watershed, by R.N. Lerch, E.J. Sadler, K.A. Sudduth, and C. Baffaut ...... 261

A Watershed Condition Assessment of Rocky Mountain National Park Using the FLoWS Tools, by D.M. Theobald and J.B. Norman ...... 262

Manuscripts .......263

Long-Term Patterns of Hydrologic Response after Logging in a Coastal Redwood Forest, by E. Keppeler, L. Reid, and T. Lisle ......265

Recognizing Change in Hydrologic Functions and Pathways due to Historical Agricultural Use—Implications to Hydrologic Assessments and Modeling, by C.C. Trettin, D.M. Amatya, C. Kaufman, N. Levine, and R.T. Morgan .......273

Integrating Terrestrial LiDAR and Stereo Photogrammetry to Map the Tolay Lakebed in Northern San Francisco Bay, by I. Woo, R. Storesund, J.Y. Takekawa, R.J. Gardiner, and S. Ehret...... 279

Does Climate Matter? Evaluating the Effects of Climate Change on Future Ethiopian Hydropower, by P. Block and C. Brown ...... 285

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Planning for an uncertain future - Monitoring, integration, and adaptation
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2009-5049
DOI 10.3133/sir20095049
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description Report: xii, 293 p.; Available online and on DVD-ROM
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds
Time Range Start 2008-09-08
Time Range End 2008-09-11
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N