Submitted to: Owyhee Outpost, A Journal of the History of the Owyhee County
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2006
Publication Date: January 20, 2006
Citation: Flerchinger, G., Marks, D., Hardegree, S., Winstral, A., Seyfried, M., Pierson, F., and Clark, P. 2006. Climate and Hydrologic Research Conducted at the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed. Owyhee Outpost, A Journal of the History of the Owyhee County 37:72-91. Interpretive Summary: The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed was established over 40 years ago to conduct research and collect data to address critical water issues on western rangelands. Research focus on the watershed has changed over the past 40 years, starting initially with monitoring and describing hydrologic processes and migrating toward development of computer-based tools to address critical water supply, water quality and rangeland management problems. Data quality at the watershed has improved greatly with improved instrumentation but the type of data collected has also changed to meet new research needs. The combination of the long historic records, current data collection and support staff make RCEW a unique “outdoor laboratory” to address critical natural resource questions.
Technical Abstract: Rangelands and the water they yield are under increasing pressures by multiple users. Complex landscapes and variable weather conditions make it difficult to manage natural resources over large landscapes. Landscape disturbance caused by wildfire and invasive weeds complicate water resource and land management issues because they occur over very large areas, which are difficult to study. The USDA Agricultural Research Service, Northwest Watershed Research Center (NWRC) has been conducting hydrologic and rangeland research at the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW) since 1960. The research mission at NWRC and RCEW has evolved over the last 45 years, but is still focused on the type of long-term studies that is difficult for either private industry or the university system to conduct. Extensive hydrologic records have been collected since the experimental watershed was established in the early 1960's. This long-term database and the infrastructure within the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed make it a unique “outdoor laboratory” to address current natural resource concerns including prescribed fire effects, changing climate, and water and rangeland management.