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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Peter Schiess
F E 423
Seattle Campus

Watershed Analysis

Inventory and historical analysis of the interactions between natural resources, climate, and forest management. Development of management objectives and design of forest management activities based on inventory and analysis. Includes the use of modeling and simulation in predicting the influence of forest management activities on other resources. Offered: W.

Class Description


"..I recall an illustration back in the early 1980's. A USGS hydrologist had spent 30 years modeling the characteristics of a small (about 5 square miles) watershed, doing all sorts of calculations by hand and calculator.

One day he was talking with an engineer who was working on a GIS project and wondered whether the GIS might be able to help. The engineer thought it might, asked for some of the formulas and data, then disappeared. A few days later, he brought the geologist a plot of the watershed, plus had applied the analysis to the entire quad!

That's not too far from our experience. Without a GIS, it's simply too time-consuming to perform all the calculations required to generate many of our regulatory maps."

Forest management can have a broad range of environmental impacts, and Watershed Analysis identifies the most quantifiable of these, but at both the federal and state level it has tended to be a pencil-and-paper process. In order to better address these issues, we will be modifying FE 423/523 Watershed Analysis to use Geographic Information System (GIS) software to perform rapid quantitative analysis of geographic data sets. Over the quarter, students will develop maps identifying the parts of the watershed most sensitive to various processes (surface erosion, landsliding, rain-on-snow, etc.) and quantitative estimates of the environmental impacts of specific management options.

This course IS about spatial analysis of watershed issues. (we will cover GRID basics because many students lack sufficient background in spatial analysis)


1.Sight conditions: forestry impacts can be estimated from local conditions, such as the following: -Landslides might be estimated from local soils, slope and topographic convergence. -Surface erosion might be estimated from local slope, soil, rainfall, and management. -Snowmelt might be estimated from local snowpack, elevation, canopy, aspect, etc.

2.Routing: sediment and runoff can be dissipated or stopped on its way to the stream depending on the distance, slope, and cover between the source and the stream.

3.Accumulation: Sediment, water, and wood can be accumulated from all contributing processes, from all delivering hillslopes, and over time.

Course Objectives:

1.Cumulative Effects: integrating forestry impacts at the watershed scale 2.GRID: the language of cumulative effects 3.Communication: clear presentation of assumptions, methods and results 4.Project: Students registered for FE 523 will organize and conduct a watershed analysis, which will be used Spring quarter to assist the capstone design course

Recommended preparation

Expected Background:

Some computer experience (directory structures, moving/copying/deleting files, etc.)

Some background in surface processes (hydrology, geomorphology, or related engineering)

Some background with Arcview helpful

Class Assignments and Grading

Labs: Each week a lab will be assigned on the subject of that week. The Thursday lab session will be set aside for working on and discussing the problems, although the labs will also require several hours a week of additional work.

Each lab will be posted on the student's web site (and thus available for review by other students). Lab reports should express each student's 'take' on the material, and thus each report is expected to be unique although students are expected to work together on the labs.

Grading will be based on effective communication of the material rather than getting the 'right' answer. The focus on the lab will be the student's explanation and discussion of the tools and processes.

A draft of each lab should be finished and posted before the next lab session, but this is not a solid due date. Students should feel free to post their labs (and email the instructor) as soon or late as they wish (prior to the final).

Students will be able to revise and resubmit each lab as many times as needed, since it is assumed that the students enter the class with minimal communication skills. Expectations will rise as the quarter progresses however, so material judged acceptable when submitted early in the quarter will probably be judged substandard if submitted later in the quarter.

Project: Students wishing to apply the class material to a real watershed project should register for FE523.

All students in FE523 will work on a common analysis of the Hoodsport planning area, in which the Forest Engineering seniors will be conducting their Harvest Planning 'capstone' in Spring Quarter. Students will be responsible for identifying issues of interest, scope of work, assigning workload, etc.

The project is divided into 5 phases, each representing 20% of the project grade.

3rd week: Wish List After reviewing the Watershed Analysis manual and last year's FE423 project, the group should have some preliminary ideas of what watershed analysis is, and how GRID might be applied. The Wish List will be a report outlining a range of issues the group might want to address, along with some preliminary thinking on how each might be accomplished.

5th week: Project Plan By the midpoint in the quarter, students should have identified the scope of the project, developed a work plan with timeline, assigned responsibilities to each member, and compiled this into a report.

Mid Quarter: Progress Report The report should be a work-in-progress, explaining and justifying work completed to date, as well as discussion of work not yet completed and still to come.

Last week: Presentation The project will get valuable feedback from a public presentation (9:30-11:20) to the class and invited guests from across the campus and beyond. This presentation is expected to be professional and practiced beforehand.

Final Report Any final formatting, revisions, etc. must be completed by the end of Finals week

Grading: 50% labs, 50% exam

Exam: There will be a final exam ( ). It will be open books, open notes, pencil-and-paper solution/discussion of several problems. A take-home practice exam can be added at the student's request.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Peter Schiess
Date: 12/29/1999