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Development of streamflow characteristics in the San Juan National Forest

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Development of streamflow characteristics in the San Juan National Forest

Study Area: The San Juan National Forest (SJNF) is located in southwestern Colorado within the San Juan and Dolores River basins
Period of Project: Ongoing
Project Number: CO504
Project Chief: Gerhard Kuhn
Cooperator: San Juan National Forest


The SJNF is in the process of revising their Land and Resource Management Plan that was completed in 1983 and substantially revised in 1992. A number of water-resource issues have been identified in developing a revised management plan; these issues include:

  1. How can protecting watershed values, including soil resources, be balanced with the need for activities that potentially disturb the ground?
  2. What is the condition of riparian areas on the National Forest?
  3. How do various activities occurring on the forest affect water quality and quantity, soil resources, and riparian areas?
  4. What is the appropriate balance between watershed protection and activities that can disturb the ground, such as road construction, logging, fire, grazing, recreation use, mining, and oil and gas extraction?
  5. How can valuable riparian resources be identified and protected?
  6. Where is it appropriate to manage for consumptive uses versus non-consumptive uses of water?
  7. To what extent should water development occur on the San Juan National Forest?
  8. What are the effects of water diversion and water storage (reservoirs, ponds, and water tanks) on the ecosystem?
  9. What is the importance of water produced from the San Juan National Forest in surrounding and downstream communities, including tribal communities?

To evaluate these and other water-related issues and to formulate management actions that result in the best management of water and water-related resources, the SJNF has identified a need for:

  1. A scientifically-based set of streamflow data to support instream flow analysis that is acceptable to all interested parties;
  2. analysis of streamflow data to enable the describing and understanding of seasonal and annual variability; and
  3. the capability to estimate natural streamflow characteristics at ungaged sites within the study area.

Currently, data and analyses to fulfill these needs either are not available, only partially available, or are not up-to-date.


  1. To compile daily mean discharge data, through water year 1999, for selected active and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations within and adjacent to the SJNF.
  2. To develop selected streamflow characteristics for these stations.

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