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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Survey identifies sediment sources in North Coast rangelands


We conducted a sediment source survey to gain insight into soil erosion on Northern California rangeland watersheds and to provide information to facilitate informed land-use management, conservation prioritization and water-quality regulation decisions. The results indicate that by focusing on erosion associated with natural and historical influences, inventory and assessment efforts on these watersheds can characterize the majority of sediment deliverable to streams. While this volume of sediment does not require mitigation under current water-quality regulations, it none-theless prohibits the ability of instream sediment monitoring to detect water-quality changes. Water-quality regulations require managers to create inventories for all sources with 10 cubic yards or more of potentially deliverable sediment. If a monitoring threshold of 100 cubic yards was used, more than 99% of the deliverable sediment identified in this survey would be inventoried. This would require developing inventories for only 82 of the 117 sites in this study. Overall, we determined that rangeland managers can achieve the greatest reductions in sediment generation by focusing on erosion from roads.

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