Cottonwood AZ (January 9, 2015) – On Wednesday, January 21st at 10:30 a.m., speaker Dr. Frances O’Donnell, a post-doctoral scholar at Northern Arizona University, will discuss research that will determine the best methods for monitoring forest moisture before and after forest thinning and prescribed burning, in a long-term watershed study.
The presentation will be at the Yavapai County Administrative Building in Cottonwood, 10 South 6th Street, in the Board Room. The event is free and part of the Verde River Basin Partnership’s (Partnership) ongoing monthly program series.
A legacy of past forestry and grazing practices and a century of fire suppression in semi-arid forests have led to declining forest health and the increasing incidence of large, severe wildfires. To improve forest health and restore a natural fire cycle, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) plans to perform thinning and prescribed burning on 2.4 million acres of ponderosa pine forest over several decades. 4FRI is a long-term effort by approximately 30 stakeholders to restore forest ecosystems on a landscape scale within four national forests within Arizona.
Changes in vegetation cover after thinning may affect the water balance in the forests of the Salt and Verde River watersheds, and one of the goals of 4FRI is to improve watershed function. The water balance describes the flow of water in and out of a system. To monitor the influence of 4FRI’s projects on the forest water cycle and to inform the adaptive management process, researchers, including O’Donnell, are planning a long-term monitoring study in forests that will be treated as part of 4FRI.
In this talk, Dr. O’Donnell will give an overview of the plans for the study, including how they will collect comprehensive water balance data at various sites, and present the preliminary results of ongoing pilot studies they are conducting to refine the study methodology.
Frances O’Donnell is a post-doctoral scholar in the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. She received a PhD in 2012 from Princeton University in civil and environmental engineering with a focus in eco-hydrology.
The Partnership is a scientific and educational resource raising awareness among citizens and community leaders about the workings of Verde River Basin’s interconnected groundwater and surface water systems, and the life they support. To find out more about their monthly programs and to browse educational materials relating to shared-water resources, please visit www.vrbp.org.