Effects of selective forest clearing on water yield and water quality were investigated in a 308-hectare basin that drains to Quabbin Reservoir Watershed in central Massachusetts. The experimental basin and a nearby 280-hectare control basin were studied together for comparison. Streamflow was measured continuously and water-quality samples were collected biweekly in both basins from February 1985 through September 1989. During the same period, measurements of precipitation quantity and ground- water levels were made and samples were collected for determination of precipitation and ground-water quality. After an initial monitoring period to establish baseline hydrology and water quality in both basins, an area of red pine and white pine forest in the experimental basin was cleared. From October 1986 until April 1987, 23.8 percent of the total basal area was removed by clearcutting and thinning. Part of the cleared area was converted to rye and other field grasses, and the remainder was allowed to regrow naturally. Fertilizer and lime were applied to part of the cleared area. An additional 8.3 percent of basal area was cleared in fall 1988. Despite differences in bedrock geology, topography, and amount of wetland area, pre- treatment hydrology and chemistry of the two basins were similar. Biogeochemical reactions of the dilute mixture of sulfuric and nitric acids in precipitation with soils and rocks in the basins resulted in moderately buffered calcium-magnesium bicarbonate-type streamwater. During high flows, sulfate concentrations increased and alkalinity decreased. Selective forest clearing resulted in a slight increase in water yield during the year in which the clearing took place, particularly during the spring high-flow period, but flows returned to normal thereafter. Concurrent increases in solute flux were primarily a function of the increased water flux. No major alterations to biogeochemical processes were induced by the forest clearing, nor were any effects from the fertilizer or liming activity observed. The minimal effect observed from the clearing was attributed primarily to the limited area that was cleared, and the location of the cleared area in the headwaters of the basin (away from the riparian zone).
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Effects of selective forest clearing fertilization, and liming on the hydrology and water quality of a small tributary to the Quabbin Reservoir, central Massachusetts
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey ;
U.S.G.S Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],