Headwaters to Estuaries: Advances in Watershed Science and Management

SRS scientists host 5th Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds

Live oak near Charleston, SC, believed to be over 1500 years old. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Live oak near Charleston, SC, believed to be over 1500 years old. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On March 2-5, 81 scientists, managers, and stakeholders met in North Charleston, South Carolina, to present and discuss the latest research on watershed science and management.

U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station scientist Carl Trettin served as conference chair and host  for the 5th Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds, which took a national perspective while highlighting the rich history and ecology of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

The conference opened with a plenary session moderated by Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Director Rob Doudrick. Forest Service Deputy Chief of Research Jimmy Reaves welcomed the attendees with an opening speech that emphasized landscape-level initiatives, Forest Service research, and findings from the Southern Forest Futures Project.

Concurrent sessions on March 3rd and  5th ranged from examples of watershed assessment and implementation from small municipalities and large federal agencies to advanced methods of hydrologic monitoring and watershed modeling.  Sessions specific to forested wetlands in coastal watersheds focused on the continuing loss of forested wetlands and new approaches to managing these forests for ecosystem and restoration needs.  Access abstracts for the more 120 special and concurrent sessions.

Researchers from the SRS Center for Watershed Science were prominent participants, with presentations from scientists based near Charleston at the Center for Forested Wetlands Research that helped to set the local tone through hydrologic studies of the Turkey Creek watershed and long-term data on the effects of hurricanes, clarified the link between tidal hydrology and carbon cycling in coastal forests,  and introduced international research on mangrove-dominated wetlands.

SRS researchers from the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in western North Carolina and SRS Coldwater Streams and Trout Habitat unit in Blacksburg, Virginia, presented research based in mountain watersheds on climate and forest structure influences on water yield, soil and chemistry interactions in high-level watersheds, impacts on vegetation of harvesting in riparian areas, and the distribution of aquatic species and their habitats in a reservoir transition zone. Research from the Center from Bottomland Hardwoods Research on identifying temporal patterns in long-term hydrological signals in the Lower Mississippi River Basin was also presented.

Scientists from the Raleigh, North Carolina, location of the Eastern Forest Threat Center presented sessions on paired watershed experiments in the North Carolina Piedmont, estimating  watershed evapotranspiration across the U.S., and relationships between wildland fire and watershed hydrology across the U.S.

Six unique all-day field tours on March 4th provided conference participants with opportunities to tour the Santee Experimental Watershed, or explore Bulls Islands, Shem Creek, the ACE Basin, tidal marsh restoration in West Ashley, or tour federal, state, and university laboratories concerned with coastal management issues.

SRS staff members Kathy Flowers, Randy Fowler, and Juanita Lockwood, and research hydrologist Christine Stringer provided essential services without which the conference would not have been possible. The ICRW committee awarded Randy Fowler, who chaired the conference’s facility and events committee, its annual service coordination award. Stringer and Louise Wilde from the SRS publications group are now preparing the proceedings from the event.

The conference was sponsored by the Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, North Carolina Sea Grant, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and the Water Resources Research Institute of North Carolina State University.

Access abstracts of conference sessions.

 For more information, email Carl Trettin at ctrettin@fs.fed.us

Access the latest publications by SRS scientists.

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