Salvage Logging and Water Flows at Cooper Creek

A rancher complained that, during the summers of 2009 and 2010, his ranch southwest of Williams Lake had run short of water. The complainant asserted that salvage logging upstream of the ranch had caused earlier, faster and greater runoff during spring, which removed water from the system, and ultimately led to summer water shortages. Mountain pine beetle attacked the pine-dominated watershed in the mid-2000s, killing much of the mature pine. Extensive salvage harvesting began in 2006.

The Board found that the reduced summer streamflows at the ranch were likely the result of depleted soil moisture and groundwater following a series of dry years, but salvage harvesting may have added to the problem by increasing the potential for accelerated runoff.

August 1, 2012

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