Coweeta Experimental Forest

Coweeta, known at the time as the “Coweeta Experimental Forest,” was established in 1934 near Otto, North Carolina.

Historic photo showing Coweeta Experimental Forest sign

Coweeta Experimental Forest entrance sign with administrative building at right, 1942.

In 1948, the site was renamed the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, the only USDA Forest Service outdoor site to carry the “Laboratory” title. Early research focused on establishing baseline measurements of climate, streamflow, and forest growth. Subsequent research established fundamental relationships among vegetation (for example, type, successional stage), soils, abiotic factors, and streamflow, further strengthening our understanding of the hydrologic cycle in watersheds.

In the late 1960s, efforts to establish an extensive data base on nutrient cycling and collaborative research with local universities and the National Science Foundation (NSF) began in earnest. Coweeta is one of the original Long-Term Ecological Research sites established by the NSF.

The research program at Coweeta represents a continuum of theory, experimentation, and application using watersheds as landscape units. Two underlying philosophies have guided the research: (1) the quantity, timing, and quality of streamflow provides an integrated measurement of the success or failure of land-management activities, and (2) good resource management is synonymous with good ecosystem management. Ecosystem response to disturbance has been a focal point for interpreting ecosystem behavior.