The Sierra-Nevada, Cascade and other mountain ranges are the heart of our state's watershed system. The lakes, rivers, streams and seasonal watercourses are the veins. These watersheds supply the majority of the state's water. Without the canopy cover and root systems that mature trees provide, rainwater runs off the barren land of a clearcut, instead of replenishing the groundwater.
Snow melts earlier in the season causing the soil to dry out earlier, exposing the trees and other plants to more stress from the hotter, drier conditions, and decreasing the water supply when it is needed most.
"Review of Study: Inspection of Sierra Pacific Industries’ Ponderosa Post-Fire Sediment Study" by Tom Myers, PhD here
". . .the topsoil on earth is incredibly thin and yet it supports hundreds of millions of different species that live in the very top 6 inches.
This thin skin that has given us life is greatly threatened. As we lose biodiversity, especially with fungi, we begin to unravel
the very food networks that have given rise to us."
Paul Stamets, "Mycelium Running"
Our project began in December of 2009. We have collected over 14,000 samples as of 2021.
We sample 10-13 sites weekly throughout the year. (2 sites dry out in the summer.)
We measure turbidity, pH, and soil and water temperature.
In January 2019 we began the process of uploading our data to the California Environmental Data Exchange Network (CEDEN)
Turbidity (sedimentation) is measured in NTU units. Following are some examples of what we are finding:
Streams near clear cuts are full of sedimentation due to lack of vegetation
on surrounding slopes and the many miles of logging roads.
For comparison, below is water in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State
Park during a rainstorm (this forest has never been cut):
Below is another of our sites that is next to a clearcut that was cut in 2008. On 3/6/11 it
had a reading of 30.2 NTU or nearly 80% more than the uncut site.
Above is one of our sites in an uncut area. On 3/6/11 it had a reading of 6.4 NTU.
"...we are circling in a continuous stream of land, water, and life, and every part of it is critical to the fertility and health of the whole. Central to that flow of energy and life is the hydrologic cycle."
... Jerry Dennis
Battle Creek is one of the largest tributaries of the Sacramento River.
The water that flows from the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds supply the Delta.
96% of California's population either lives in the Delta watershed or uses water from the Delta watershed.
Logging more will not increase water:The High Costs and Low Benefits of Attempting to Increase Water Yield by Forest Removal in the Sierra Nevada, by Jonathan Rhodes and Christopher Frissell here
The following picture was taken on 3/12/11 of Rock Creek, a tributary of Battle Creek.
Many clearcuts were done near this creek in 2008.
Clearcutting depletes the forest's ability to maintain watersheds. A functioning forest inhales carbon and exhales oxygen and creates topsoil.
Its root system stabilizes the soil, while the tree canopy allows water to percolate slowly through the soil to maintain the water cycle and
protect clean water. While wood products store a small amount of carbon, they perform none of these other functions.
The salvage logging after the 2012 Ponderosa Fire intensified the sediment effects significantly.
Same creek in 2014 below.
Rock Creek Rd. Manton, CA 96059