Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y073222

    Carnation Creek - Forestry impacts and watershed recovery processes in a small coastal drainage
Project lead: Tschaplinski, Peter J.
Author: Tschaplinski, Peter J.
Imprint: Victoria, BC : Research Branch, BC Ministry of Forests, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Watershed Restoration, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Design: The Carnation Creek project is a long-term, multi-disciplinary case study of the effects of forestry practices on a small coastal watershed. It uses an intensive, pre-treatment vs. post-treatment design that currently consists of five years of pre-harvest baseline data (1970/71-1975), six years of observations from 1976-1981 when 41% of the basin was harvested, and 23 years of post-harvest studies. Another 25% of the basin was harvested in headwater areas remote from the main stream channel in the 1990s. The study features both clearcut and control sub-basins. Riparian forestry treatments vary from intensive clearcutting to variable-width riparian buffers. Objectives: The broad objectives are to determine the mechanisms, rates, and levels of natural resource recovery in a harvested coastal drainage by quantifying long-term changes in biological and physical watershed processes. We are currently determining the mid-term (22-25 years) post-harvest responses to logging practices from the condition and attributes of the hydrologic regime, hillslopes, stream channel network, riparian forest (canopy closure), aquatic habitats (mainstream, tributary, and off-channel network), water temperatures, and salmonid abundance, growth, age structure, survival, and smolt production. Rationale: Our 34-year datasets provide the framework required to address difficult management questions: what is the cumulative effect of harvesting beyond specific levels (i.e., 65% basin harvest); what is the effect on both large and small stream channels when the riparian vegetation is removed or modified; what biological changes result from altered stream habitats; and, how long do these changes persist? Achieving sustainability depends on advanced understanding of these watershed relationships connected with forestry impacts and recovery. This project is thus fully relevant to the FIA-FSP Sustainability Program, and is best fit within Theme 1.0 'Ecosystem structure, function and processes, and biodiversity related to forest management' (particularly Topic 1.4 'Watershed function'). Because our project contains an integrated headwater stream component, it is also relevant to Priority Topic 1.1 'Riparian ecology and management of small streams'. The Carnation Creek project is a classic example of validation monitoring, and is able to provide intensive, quantitative process information in support of projects proposed under Priority Theme 3 'Sustainable forest management indicators, targets and monitoring systems', particularly Priority Topic 3.2 'Indicator targets and functional thresholds of sustainability'. Approach: This proposal is for FIA-FSP year 2 of a proposed 5-year study of mid-term forestry-related alterations and recovery in watershed functions. Budgets for 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 are provided. We use a 2-tiered research approach: 1. Core physical and biological data. Annual collection, analysis, and summarization of primary data on climate (stations), hydrology (weirs), stream channel morphology and fish habitat (standard ground-based and aerial-photo surveys), and fish populations (weirs for salmonid migrations; multi-pass, ground-based rearing-population surveys) funded primarily by FSP to: (i) Determine current channel and aquatic habitat conditions in clearcut and buffered riparian areas; relate these conditions to the ecological implications of past and current forestry practices within the watershed; and, quantify the state of recovery; (ii) Determine and explain annual and seasonal trends in fish abundance, growth, distribution, and habitat use; (iii) Compare the relative effects on stream channels and fish habitats made by alternative riparian forestry treatments versus those delivered to the stream network by hillslope processes (landslides and debris flows), i.e., the 'downstream cumulative effects'. 2. Derivative studies funded mainly through in-kind support by our team members and partners. We supply empirical data to support process studies and model development/refinement for description and prediction of post-harvest alterations or recovery to hydrologic regime, hillslopes, stream channels, aquatic habitats, fish populations and habitat capability. These studies include over the long-term: (a) rainfall interception and runoff; (b) water quantity and quality of surface flows; (c) landslide frequency and location; (d) hillslope/channel sediment-and-debris budgets (sediment storage and transport models); (e) in-channel sediment mobilization and channel condition; (f) dissolved organic carbon (DOC) shielding of UV light vs. fish survival; and (g) Export of water, DOC, particulate organic carbon, and N to the ocean and effects on coastal marine alga blooms and juvenile salmon survival.
Related projects:  FSP_Y051222FSP_Y062222


Annual report (0.1Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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