- Author: Jaquelyn Lugg
Reposted from the UCANR Green Blog
To effectively reduce these adverse effects of harvest, foresters first need to know the precise causes of sediment increases. Historically, researchers investigating the effects of timber harvest on the land have considered two primary drivers: hydrologic changes following timber harvest or fuel reduction that drive sediment transport, and increased sediment supply from ground disturbances and/or mass movements that result from those harvest or fuel reduction activities.
While these causes are tightly linked, little is understood about the relative role each plays in transporting sediment from the watersheds. In other words, which is dominant in increasing sediment delivery and transport: increased streamflow due to greater water availability that can sweep up and transport sediment, or a greater supply of sediment entering the waterway in the first place?
A new analytical approach developed by Safeeq Khan, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in water and watershed sciences at UC Merced, and collaborators now provides valuable insights into this issue, and ways to target effective mitigation strategies.
Published in the Journal of Hydrology last fall, the team's study analyzed long-term (1952-2017) streamflow and sediment data from two adjacent paired watersheds in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the western Cascades Range of Oregon. One of the watersheds was harvested and replanted in the 1960s, while the second was not disturbed and used as a control.
“The data is from Oregon, but highly relevant for our work in the Sierra Nevada,” said Khan, lead author of the study. “We have tried to quantify the effect of hydrologic changes and increased sediment supply from logging activities on total sediment yield.”
To isolate the relative contributions of streamflow changes and increased sediment supply on sediment transport, Khan and colleagues developed a statistical reconstruction technique to account for the hydrologic changes following harvest.
“This approach allows us to analyze and estimate background sediment production in the treated watershed during the post-treatment period as if the harvest had not occurred, which is remarkable,” said Khan.
The new approach demonstrated that sharp increases in sediment following harvests can be confidently attributed to ground disturbances associated with timber harvest or thinning operations to reduce fuel. Changes in sediment supply overwhelmingly dominate streamflow in terms of contributions to increased sediment in the watershed. Streamflow increases alone led to modest increases in sediment, less than 10%, with the watershed transporting about twice as much total sediment than it would have had the area been left unharvested. This effect diminishes more or less exponentially over time, especially with respect to suspended sediment, as bare areas revegetate, which reduces hillslope sediment supply, and as streamflow returns to pre-treatment levels.
“Once we know the background sediment production, we can easily attribute how much of the increase is due to what mechanisms” said Gordon Grant, a hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station and co-author on the study.
“Determining that increased sediment in watersheds after harvests is primarily driven by ground disturbance is crucial in targeting mitigation efforts,” explained Khan. “Now, we know that strategies that limit ground disruption – like suspending logs while transporting instead of dragging them, avoiding heavy machinery when and where possible, and mastication and mulching – are likely to be highly effective in reducing sediment yields.”
These changes are most pronounced in the first few years following harvest, but the treated watershed did not return to pre-harvest levels of sediment for two decades, underscoring the long-term effects of harvest on a forest's hydrologic and geomorphic systems.
While clearcutting is no longer practiced on U.S. federal land, it is still the primary timber harvest method used across the globe. Additionally, many other types of forest disturbances such as wildfires, mass tree die-offs, and salvage logging create hydrogeomorphic conditions not too different from clearcutting.
"Our findings provide insights that can help land managers and foresters better target land management and restoration in the future,” said Khan. “We're hopeful that these results will lead to strategies that minimize the long-term impacts and legacies of intense land-use disturbances.”
The full study, titled “Disentangling effects of forest harvest on long-term hydrologic and sediment dynamics, western Cascades, Oregon" is available online in the Journal of Hydrology at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169419309941?via%3Dihub.
- Author: Pam Kan-Rice
Reposted from the UCANR News
Do you have an opinion on how California wildlands are managed? UC Cooperative Extension specialists Safeeq Khan, Tapan Pathak and Toby O'Geen are conducting a need assessment survey about land management and ecosystem climate solutions.
Khan, Pathak and O'Geen are part of the Innovation Center for Ecosystem Climate Solutions (CECS), a state-funded collaboration between eight California research institutions, including UC ANR, working to develop innovative solutions to managing California's wildlands to reduce negative impacts of drought and climate change. Their goal is to identify land management practices that simultaneously enhance carbon sequestration, reduce wildfire severity, protect watersheds, and increase ecological and community resilience.
Khan would like your help in identifying problems and issues like wildfire and water supply, multiple benefits and beneficiaries of wildlands management, data and information gaps, and major implementation barriers.
To help the research team better understand stakeholder needs and develop data/information solutions for active ecosystem management, please take the survey at https://ucmerced.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8ptCWlrQBTILyAd. It should take about 30 minutes to complete.
Please feel free to share the survey with your colleagues. To get more involved in the project, contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project is funded by the Strategic Growth Council of California.
- Author: Pam Kan-Rice
The Association of California Water Agencies has selected the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) French Meadows Forest Restoration Project for the 2020 Clair A. Hill Agency Award for Excellence. The award recognizes exemplary programs developed by ACWA members that creatively address water industry issues and show commitment to water use efficiency and conservation, leadership in broad water-related issues, and excellence in agency management and operations.
The French Meadows Project is a collaborative partnership that aims to accelerate ecologically based forest management to reduce wildfire risk and promote healthier, more resilient source waters. Safeeq Khan, assistant UCCE specialist in water and watershed sciences at UC Merced's Sierra Nevada Research Institute, is part of the project team that includes members from the Placer County Water Agency, U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Placer County, American River Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy.
As a part of this effort, Khan is evaluating forest management impacts on hydrology (e.g. snow accumulation and melt, soil moisture, streamflow and evapotranspiration) and forest health (e.g. tree growth and mortality) in the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the American River.
“The overall aim is to measure and assess the effects of restoration treatments on downstream water supplies, and drought resiliency in source-water watersheds,” Khan said. “My research team is working on installing and measuring water- and energy-balance in the project area and has acquired digital imagery for the site that provides baseline before-and-after data for analysis and scaling.
The results will inform land managers locally and across the region of the multi-year impacts of landscape-scale vegetation treatments and stimulate further participation in both restoration and long-term management.”
The award was presented to PCWA during ACWA's 2020 Virtual Summer Conference. As a part of this award, PCWA will have the honor of awarding a $5,000 scholarship to a deserving student in the name of Clair A. Hill.
- Author: Kim Ingram
“Managing your forest as a business comes with both complexity and tax benefits. Working with a tax professional and a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) who has experience in the various financial aspects of forest ownership is important for ensuring forest landowners also enjoy the financial benefits their forest offers.”
- Larry Camp, RPF, forest landowner, retired IRS forester and Forest Stewardship Workshop presenterLarry Camp knows taxes and forests. As a retired IRS tax professional and forest landowner, he acknowledges that income and expenses related to forest management have tax consequences for forest landowners, whether the forest is owned as a business or not. In California, owning forestland for investment or business purposes is cited by just under 50% of families and individuals as a main reason for owning the land, with the purpose of timber production being cited by only 10% (Butler, B., et all. 2016). Even if a forest landowner doesn't cite financial investment or consider owning forestland for revenue purposes, there are still important financial aspects to forest land ownership that every owner should be aware of and take into consideration.
Q: As a forest landowner, do you need an accountant or tax professional?
A: Yes.A tax accountant, enrolled agent, or tax attorney should be a part of your management team to address questions as they arise or in unique situations. However, there are many resources available to forest landowners to assist in tax preparation such as the Forest Landowner's Guide to the Federal Income Tax found at timbertax.org. Remember, each taxpayer's circumstances need to be considered for the appropriate application of tax law and regulations. Individuals may or may not feel confident doing this work themselves. Talk with several accountants and see if they've done timber/forestry work before you sign up with them. A Registered Professional Forester (RPF) may also have experience in tax issues.
Q: Why would I want to establish my forest as a business? How would I do that?
A: Consider that you may have a fire on your property someday. Under current law you will not be able to claim a casualty loss if your forest land is not identified as a business, unless it is covered by a federally declared disaster proclamation. Are you traveling a distance to and from your property? This travel may be a business deduction if you keep a mileage log and receipts and the travel is for a business purpose. Establishing your forestland as a business can be accomplished by filing a form Schedule C with your tax return. There may be other state and local requirements as well, so check with your tax advisor. It is very important to keep good records to support your business especially if it may be some time before you have income.
Q: Can I still be a business with only periodic income?
A: You do not necessarily need an annual stream of income to qualify as business, but expenses you claim need to be an ordinary and necessary part of your business. This issue often arises in connection with a “hobby loss” under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 183. Discuss the issue with a knowledgeable tax advisor and/or RPF.
Q: What if I decide to harvest timber?
A: Generally, you should prepare and file Form T with your taxes if you harvest timber. For record keeping purposes, it is recommended that you update Form T annually which will save time when you actually need to file the form. If selling timber, you will also have to pay a yield tax to the state unless you meet certain exceptions. Review the Landowner's Guide (see link above) and consult with your forester and tax advisor regarding the best tax treatment.
Q: What if I received cost-share money for forest management activities?
A: Participation in cost-share programs such as Cal Fire's California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to fund forest management activities will also have tax ramifications. Typically, money you receive through cost-share programs should be reported as income and your expenses should be reported, as they will often result in a potential deductible loss given the cost share requirements of both programs, especially if you pay a contractor to do some or all of the work. If you do the work yourself, the tax implications are more involved and you should consult with your tax advisor. The applicable federal statue and regulation are under IRC section 126. CFIP payments are currently exempt from Calif. state income tax.
Q: Is estate planning important when I own a small parcel of forestland?
A: Passing on forestland to future generations is identified by over 70% of forest landowners as an ownership goal. Yet legacy planning, including estate planning, is something often neglected. Legacy and estate planning is often important even to those owning smaller acreage because estate tax and probate issues are determined by the total value of the estate. Current Federal law states that an estate generally will not pay estate tax unless the total value of assets totals $22 million for a couple filing jointly. Note, current provisions of the law expire in 2025 unless amended by Congress. Forest landowners should also monitor California legislation regarding proposals to re-impose an inheritance tax where the estate value exceeds a certain amount.
Another benefit to estate planning is to address California probate issues. Estate planning can reduce the expenses and long timelines associated with probate in California.
DISCLAIMER - The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is NOT legal or accounting advice. Please consult a tax professional.
For more information on forest taxation and estate planning, please see the Forest Stewardship Series 22: Forest Taxation, Estate Planning and Conservation Easements, ANR Publication 8252.
Financial considerations are just one aspect to owning forest land. Protection of forest resources through active management is what forest stewardship is all about. To learn more about Forest Stewardship and Forest Stewardship workshops hosted by UC Cooperative Extension, please visit http://ucanr.edu/forestryworkshops
- Author: UCCE Napa County