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Development of streamflow characteristics in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest

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Development of streamflow characteristics in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest

Study Area: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest within the Gunnison River, Dolores River, and Plateau Creek basins
Period of Project: Ongoing
Project Number: CO505
Project Chief: Gerhard Kuhn
Cooperator: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest of the U.S Forest Service


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

  1. How do various activities in the forests affect water quality and quantity, soil resources, and riparian areas?;
  2. in which drainages should the management plan establish bypass or minimum instream flows as conditions for issuance or renewal of special use permits?;
  3. in which stream or lake systems is improved programmatic direction needed to ensure the viability of aquatic species or to restore dwindling populations?; and
  4. how should surface water uses, including types and levels of use on lakes and streams be regulated to maintain quality of the recreation experiences and protect natural resources?

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 GMUGNF managers have 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 in order to describe and understand the 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 are either not available, only partially available, or not up-to-date.


  1. To compile daily mean discharge data, through water year 2000, for selected active and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations within and adjacent to the GMUGNF.
  2. To develop the following streamflow statistics:
    • instantaneous peak-flow frequency analysis;
    • flow-duration analysis of daily mean discharges on
      1. an annual (water year) basis and
      2. on a monthly basis;
    • low-flow and high-flow frequency analysis for 1, 3, 7, 15, 30, 60, 120, and 183 consecutive days;
    • compute the mean annual, mean monthly, median annual, and median monthly discharges for each year and month of record and perform frequency analysis on these characteristics;
    • estimate selected streamflow statistics by correlation analysis with nearby gaged stations;
    • and perform regression analysis between the basin characteristics and selected streamflow characteristics resulting in prediction equations that can be used to estimate these streamflow characteristics for ungaged sites in the study area.

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