Fact Sheet 2012–3097
Woody vegetation, including ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei), has encroached on some areas in central Texas that were historically oak grassland savannah. Encroachment of woody vegetation is generally attributed to overgrazing and fire suppression. Removing the ashe juniper and allowing native grasses to reestablish in the area as a brush management conservation practice (hereinafter referred to as “brush management”) might change the hydrology in the watershed. These hydrologic changes might include changes to surface-water runoff, evapotranspiration, or groundwater recharge.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Federal, State, and local partners, examined the hydrologic effects of brush management in two adjacent watersheds in Comal County, Tex. Hydrologic data were collected in the watersheds for 3–4 years (pre-treatment) depending on the type of data, after which brush management occurred on one watershed (treatment watershed) and the other was left in its original condition (reference watershed). Hydrologic data were collected in the study area for another 6 years (post-treatment). These hydrologic data included rainfall, streamflow, evapotranspiration, and water quality. Groundwater recharge was not directly measured, but potential groundwater recharge was calculated by using a simplified mass balance approach.
This fact sheet summarizes highlights of the study from the USGS Scientific Investigations Report on which it is based.
First posted August 9, 2012
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Banta, J.R., and Slattery, R.N., 2012, Effects of brush management on the hydrologic budget and water quality in and adjacent to Honey Creek State Natural Area, Comal County, Texas, 2001–10: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2012–3097, 4 p.