Forest Riparian Buffers Reduce Timber Harvesting Effects on Stream Temperature, but additional Climate Adaptation Strategies are likely needed under future conditions
Nicholas, H., S. Sarkar, J. Butcher, T. Johnson, S. Julius, AND S. LeDuc. Forest Riparian Buffers Reduce Timber Harvesting Effects on Stream Temperature, but additional Climate Adaptation Strategies are likely needed under future conditions. Journal of Water and Climate Change. IWA Publishing, London, Uk, , 1-16, (2021). https://doi.org/10.2166/wcc.2020.031
Building the capacity of EPA and EPA clients to protect and restore water quality under a range of future conditions
Stream water temperature imposes metabolic constraints on the health of cold-water fish like salmonids. Timber harvesting can reduce stream shading leading to higher water temperatures, while also altering stream hydrology. In the Pacific Northwest, riparian buffer requirements are designed to mitigate these impacts; however, anticipated future changes in air temperature and precipitation could reduce the efficacy of these practices in protecting aquatic ecosystems. Using a combined modeling approach (Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), Shade, and QUAL2K), this study examines the effectiveness of riparian buffers in reducing impacts of timber harvest on stream water temperature in Lookout Creek, Oregon across a range of potential future climates. Simulations assess changes in riparian management alone, climate alone, and combined effects. Results suggest that maximum stream water temperatures during thermal stress events are projected to increase by 3.3–7.4 °C due to hydroclimatic change alone by the end of this century. Riparian management is effective in reducing stream temperature increases from timber harvesting alone but cannot fully counteract the additional effects of a warming climate. Overall, our findings suggest that the protection of sensitive aquatic species will likely require additional adaptation strategies, such as the protection or provisioning of cool water refugia, to enhance survival during maximum thermal stress events.