News Release

Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory Celebrates 75 Years of Watershed Research

November 3, 2009

Asheville, NC — USDA Forest Service Deputy Chief for Research and Development Ann Bartuska today joined Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Director Jim Reaves, other government officials, scientists, and collaborators for a symposium in Dillard, Ga., to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory.

“Cutting-edge research at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory has led to the development and adoption of ‘best management practices’ that promote cleaner and more abundant water supplies for people in southern Appalachia and beyond,” said Reaves. “Today we celebrate the many important contributions that Coweeta and its scientists have made to our knowledge of how practices on the land impact water supplies, vital resources that support the health and sustainability of the nation.” 

The two-day symposium features discussions of the development of watershed science and the role of watershed research in addressing the challenges of the 21st Century. Topics include issues related to climate change, water supply, biodiversity and invasive species, and land use change.

Established in 1934, the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory has become known around the world for its watershed research, specifically on how land management practices affect water quality, quantity, and timing. The lab, managed by SRS is located in a 5,500-acre forested basin in Otto, NC, consisting of more than a dozen individual watersheds. Over the years, Coweeta researchers installed land management practices on many of the watersheds, then measured and monitored the effects on water quality and quantity. Coweeta scientists have shared research findings with managers, planners, and others who applied the knowledge gained at Coweeta on the ground. The results were improved land management techniques that enhanced water supplies. Coweeta scientists examined many different aspects of forest ecology, and conducted several pioneering, landmark studies that changed the way forests are managed.

The following represent some of the major scientific accomplishments of the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, its scientists, and their research partners.

  • Coweeta’s long-term data on streamflow, water quality, climate, and vegetation are among the longest and best quality data in the world and allow scientists to detect long-term trends and validate predictive models.
  • Much of what we know today about streamflow generation on steep forest lands resulted from the work of Coweeta scientists.
  • Coweeta scientists developed models that can predict the amount, and duration, of water yield following logging and other land management practices in the southern Appalachians.
  • Coweeta researchers have produced guidelines, or ‘best management practices,’ for the construction and maintenance of mountain roads, reducing sedimentation and maintaining water quality during forest management.
  • Coweeta scientists have demonstrated that multiple-use land management can sustain and enhance timber, water, wildlife, and other ecosystem services.
  • Coweeta has been a world leader in developing an interdisciplinary and holistic understanding of forest watershed processes and management options to protect, enhance, or restore watershed functions.
  • Through its partnership with the University of Georgia and the National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER))Program, Coweeta research has expanded to include determining the impacts of land use change on water resources and biodiversity in the southern Appalachian region.

To learn more about the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, visit