The effects of road building and selective tractor harvesting on storm runoff were assessed for a small (424 ha) coastal watershed in northern California. Road building alone did not significantly affect the storm runoff. After road building and logging, lag time was decreased approximately 1.5 hours, and the very small storm volumes (less than 1209 m3) and storm peaks (less than 566 L/s) were increased by about 132 and 111%, respectively. Storm volumes and peaks of large storms (occurring less frequently than eight times a year) were not significantly increased by either roads or logging, even though more than 15% of the watershed was compacted in roads, skid trails, and landings. Although a decrease in lag time showed that the average storm hydrograph was shifted forward in time, only the small storm hydrographs were changed in shape. We speculate that the rate of delivery of water to the stream channel during large channel‐forming flows was governed by infiltration and subsurface flow rates on the 85% of the watershed that was unaffected by roads, landings, or skid trails. From these findings we conclude that, in a rain‐dominated hydrologic environment, logging and forest road construction (as carried out in this study) are not likely to change the flow regime of a stream adversely.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1990
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