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Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5049

Proceedings of the Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds

Planning for an Uncertain Future—Monitoring, Integration, and Adaptation

Edited by Richard M.T. Webb and Darius J. Semmens


Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (34 MB)

The 6.7 billion human inhabitants of the earth have the ability to drastically alter ecosystems and the populations of species that have taken eons to evolve. By better understanding how our actions affect the environment, we stand a better chance of designing successful strategies to manage ecosystems sustainably. Toward this end, the Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds (ICRW) was convened in Estes Park, CO, on September 8-11, 2008.

The Conference provided a forum to present adaptive management as a practical tool for learning how to manage complex ecosystems more sustainably. Further complexity introduced by spatially variable and continuously changing environmental drivers favors this management approach because of its emphasis on adaptation in response to changing conditions or ineffective actions. For climate change in particular, an adaptive approach can more effectively accommodate the uncertainty in future climate scenarios.

Scenarios compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are built on distinct economic, energy, and societal models. The scenarios predict potential changes in greenhouse gases, temperature, precipitation, and atmospheric aerosols, which would have direct or indirect impacts on the timing, volume, and quality of runoff, vegetation, snowpack, stream temperature, groundwater, thawing permafrost, and icecaps.

Through presentations and field trips, researchers and stakeholders described how their findings and issues fit into the adaptive management 'learning by doing' paradigm of Assess > Design > Implement > Monitor > Evaluate > Adjust > Assess.

First posted October 15, 2009

The larger PDF for SIR 2009-5049 combines all papers, support material, and front matter contained in the ICRW Proceedings.

To immediately access smaller PDFs of the individual papers included in the ICRW Proceedings, use the links listed at the bottom of this webpage or the links within the Contents section of the “Front Matter” PDF.

For additional information contact:

Chief, Branch of Regional Research, Central Region
Box 25049, Mail Stop 418
Denver, CO 80225

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Webb, R.M.T., and Semmens, D.J., eds., 2009, Planning for an uncertain future—Monitoring, integration, and adaptation. Proceedings of the Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5049, 292 p.


Front Matter



Conference Program

Conference Papers and Extended Abstracts

Plenary Sessions


U.S. Forest Service Research and Development Agency Update—From the Forest to
the Faucet
, by K. Elder and D. Hayes

American Indian Tribes and the Development of Water Resources, by D. Cordalis

Contributions of the University Community to Watershed Research, by R.P. Hooper,
D.R. Maidment, and D.B. Kirschtel

The Finger Lakes Watershed Environmental Network (FLoWEN)—A Web Services–
Based Approach to Environmental Monitoring Data Management
, by R. Lopez-
Torrijos, F. Pieper, and B. Houston


Managing the Uncertainties on the Colorado River System, by E. Kuhn

Adaptive Management of Watersheds and Related Resources, by B.K. Williams

The National Wildlife Refuge System and Resource Management in a Watershed
, by A. Loranger

Selected Achievements, Science Directions, and New Opportunities for the WEBB
Small Watershed Research Program
, by P.D. Glynn, M.C. Larsen, E.A. Greene,
H.L. Buss, D.W. Clow, R.J. Hunt, M.A. Mast, S.F. Murphy, N.E. Peters, S.D.
Sebestyen, J.B. Shanley, and J.F. Walker

Climate Change Adaptation Lessons from the Land of Dry Heat, by G. Garfin, K.
Jacobs, and J. Buizer

An Ecosystem Services Framework for Multidisciplinary Research in the Colorado
River Headwaters
, by D.J. Semmens, J.S. Briggs, and D.A. Martin

Engaging Stakeholders for Adaptive Management Using Structured Decision Analysis,
by E.R. Irwin and K.D.M. Kennedy

Climate, Geology, and Geomorphology


Considerations in Defining Climate Change Scenarios for Water Resources Planning,
by L.D. Brekke

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change in the Yukon River Basin through a
Synergistic Research Approach
, by M. Walvoord, P. Schuster, and R. Striegl

Impacts of Coalbed Methane Development on Water Quantity and Quality in the
Powder River Basin
, by G.B. Paige and L.C. Munn

Paleoflood Research of South Boulder Creek Basin near Boulder, Colorado, by R.D.
Jarrett and J.C. Ferris


Evaluating Hydrological Response to Forecasted Land-Use Change—Scenario
Testing with the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) Tool
, by
W.G. Kepner, D.J. Semmens, M. Hernandez, and D.C. Goodrich

Environmental Effects of Hydrothermal Alteration and Historical Mining on Water and
Sediment Quality in Central Colorado
, by S.E. Church, D.L. Fey, T.L. Klein, T.S.
Schmidt, R.B. Wanty, E.H. DeWitt, B.W. Rockwell, and C.A. SanJuan

U.S. Geological Survey Research in Handcart Gulch, Colorado—An Alpine Watershed
with Natural Acid-Rock Drainage
, by A.H. Manning, J.S. Caine, P.L. Verplanck, D.J.
Bove, and K.G. Kahn

Water Quality Impacts from Agricultural Land Use in Karst Drainage Basins of SW
Kentucky and SW China
, by T.W. Baker and C.G. Groves

Impacts of Forest Management on Runoff and Erosion, by W.J. Elliot and B.D. Glaza

Modeled Watershed Runoff Associated with Variations in Precipitation Data, with
Implications for Contaminant Fluxes—Initial Results
, by H.E. Golden, C.D.
Knightes, E.J. Cooter, and R.L. Dennis

Post-Fire Watershed Response at the Wildland-Urban Interface, Southern California,
by P.M. Wohlgemuth, K.R. Hubbert, J.L. Beyers, and M.G. Narog

Hydrology, Biogeochemistry, and Ecology


Isotopic Signatures of Precipitation Quantify the Importance of Different Climate
Patterns to the Hydrologic Budget—An Example from the Luquillo Mountains,
Puerto Rico
, by M.A. Scholl and J.B. Shanley

Mercury Cycling Research Using the Small Watershed Approach, by J. Shanley
and A. Chalmers


Soil Evaporative Response to Lehmann Lovegrass Eragrostis lehmanniana Invasion
in a Semiarid Watershed
, by M.S. Moran, E.P. Hamerlynck, R.L. Scott, W.E.
Emmerich, and C.D. Holifield Collins

Using a Coupled Groundwater/Surface-Water Model to Predict Climate-Change
Impacts to Lakes in the Trout Lake Watershed, Northern Wisconsin
, by J.F.
Walker, R.J. Hunt, S.L. Markstrom, L.E. Hay, and J. Doherty

Using Passive Capillary Samplers to Collect Soil-Meltwater Endmembers for
Stable Isotope Analysis
, by M.D. Frisbee, F.M. Phillips, A.R. Campbell,
and J.M.H. Henrickx

Using High Frequency Sampling to Detect Effects of Atmospheric Pollutants on
Stream Chemistry
, by S.D. Sebestyen, J.B. Shanley, and E.W. Boyer

Flowpath Contributions of Weathering Products to Stream Fluxes at the Panola
Mountain Research Watershed, Georgia
, by N.E. Peters and B.T. Aulenbach

Responses of Benthic Macroinvertebrates to Urbanization in Nine Metropolitan Areas
of the Conterminous United States
, by T.F. Cuffney, G. McMahon, R. Kashuba,
J.T. May, and I.R. Waite

Aquatic Ecosystems in Central Colorado Are Influenced by Mineral Forming
Processes and Historical Mining
, by T.S. Schmidt, S.E. Church, W.H. Clements,
K.A. Mitchell, D.L. Fey, R.B. Wanty, P.L. Verplanck, C.A. San Juan, T.L. Klein,
E.H. DeWitt, and B.W. Rockwell

Timber Harvest and Turbidity in North Coastal California Watersheds, by R.D. Klein

Facilitating Adaptive Management in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through the
Use of Online Decision Support Tools
, by C. Mullinix, S. Phillips, K. Shenk, P.
Hearn, and O. Devereux

Poster Session and Field Trip Orientation


Reflections on the July 31, 1976, Big Thompson Flood, Colorado Front Range, USA,
by R.D. Jarrett and J.E. Costa

Climate-Induced Changes in High Elevation Nitrogen Dynamics, by J.S. Baron, T.M.
Schmidt, and M.D. Hartman

Potential Climate Impacts on the Hydrology of High Elevation Catchments, Colorado
Front Range
, by M.W. Williams, K.H. Hill, N. Caine, J.R. Janke, and T. Kittel


Monitoring Hydrological Changes Related to Western Juniper Removal—A Paired
Watershed Approach
, by T.L. Deboodt, M.P. Fisher, J.C. Buckhouse, and J.

A Study on Seed Dispersal by Hydrochory in Floodplain Restoration, by H. Hayashi,
Y. Shimatani, and Y. Kawaguchi

Lessons Learned in Calibrating and Monitoring a Paired Watershed Study in
Oregon’s High Desert,
by M. Fisher, T. Deboodt, J. Buckhouse, and J. Swanson

Hydrologic Instrumentation and Data Collection in Wyoming, by G.B. Paige, S.N. Miller,
T.J. Kelleners, and S.T. Gray

Advanced Spatial and Temporal Rainfall Analyses for Use in Watershed Models,
by D. Hultstrand, T. Parzybok, E. Tomlinson, and B. Kappel

Primary Factors Affecting Water Quality and Quantity in Four Watersheds in Eastern
Puerto Rico
, by S.F. Murphy and R.F. Stallard

Human Impacts and Management


The Importance of Considering Aquifer Susceptibility and Uncertainty in Developing
Water Management and Policy Guidelines
, by T. Wellman

Water Quality Screening Tools—A Practical Approach, by B. Houston and
R. Klosowski

Herbicide Transport Trends in Goodwater Creek Experimental Watershed, by R.N.
Lerch, E.J. Sadler, K.A. Sudduth, and C. Baffaut

A Watershed Condition Assessment of Rocky Mountain National Park Using the
FLoWS Tools
, by D.M. Theobald and J.B. Norman


Long-Term Patterns of Hydrologic Response after Logging in a Coastal Redwood
, by E. Keppeler, L. Reid, and T. Lisle

Recognizing Change in Hydrologic Functions and Pathways due to Historical
Agricultural Use—Implications to Hydrologic Assessments and Modeling
, by C.C.
Trettin, D.M. Amatya, C. Kaufman, N. Levine, and R.T. Morgan

Integrating Terrestrial LiDAR and Stereo Photogrammetry to Map the Tolay Lakebed
in Northern San Francisco Bay
, by I. Woo, R. Storesound, J.Y. Takekawa,
R.J. Gardiner, and S. Ehret

Does Climate Matter? Evaluating the Effects of Climate Change on Future Ethiopian
, by P. Block and C. Brown

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