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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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One of the first watershed research stations, the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed, NAEW, was established in 1935 in the uplands area of Coshocton County. The NAEW was initiated in cooperation with the then State Agricultural Agency, to study the problem and develop methods of conserving soil and water resources. The Coshocton site was selected for research because it represented land conditions prevalent in many states in this part of the nation, and because it was in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) - an area of active interest in large-scale flood control, recreation, and water management.

The Federal Government and Coshocton County, in the early 1930's, collaborated in purchasing 1047 acres of land for the experimental watershed. Beginning in 1936, field research equipment was installed and buildings constructed to house offices and laboratories. Much of the labor force in this period was supplied by two Federal agencies: the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). During World War II, the civilian Public Service Agency supplied labor and technical help.

By 1941, the NAEW was in full operation and soon thereafter scientists from all over the world came to view this "first of its kind" large-scale watershed hydrology research program in soil and water conservation. One of the unique features, developed primarily for the mission of the NAEW, was the weighing lysimeter, a block of undisturbed soil, 8 ft. (2.4m) deep, with surface dimensions of 6 x 14 feet (2x4.3m)  having concrete sidewalls and a steel bottom, and a total weight of 65 tons. The lysimeter was equipped to measure surface runoff and percolating water as well as to compute evapotransporation. Eleven lysimeters were constructed and are still in operation.

From 1948-1963, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) operated a training center at the NAEW for their staff, serving 22 states in the Northeast and Cornbelt regions. About 3500 trainees attended these 3 and 4 week sessions during a 15-year period.

As a result of departmental reorganization in 1954, this station, along with other research programs of the SCS, was transferred to Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA.

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Last modified: March 16, 2004   

Last Modified: 8/9/2005
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