Modeling potential erosion differences of small tributaries in managed stands in the Bankhead National Forest, AlabamaThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In the William B. Bankhead National Forest, AL, the Sipsey Fork River Watershed’s stream network is composed of many small tributaries that are short in length, ephemeral, and have low average discharges when wet. However, the potential to transport considerable amounts of sediment during significant storm events has not been thoroughly investigated. Sediment runoff was collected from small tributaries that drained recently burned, thinned, and control stands during heavy seasonal storms in early 2016. Water samples were analyzed for Total Suspended Solids. Results from between burned, thinned, and control stands were compared. Observational data were evaluated against predicted potential sediment loads modeled using WEPP (10.3), the geospatial interface program of the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) - a process-based hillslope and watershed model. The WEPP model performed poorly, and a second erosion potential model was developed to identify important variables that could improve modeling of erosion and sediment runoff from small tributaries. Using ArcMap’s ModelBuilder, qualitative rankings of erosion potential were evaluated using the same runoff data. Erosion predictions were positively correlated with observational runoff of small tributaries from the second model.