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Bulletin Supplement (Summer 2010)
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Births, New Hires and Retirements


Chandra Holifield Collins welcomed the birth of her daughter Talyah Katrice Collins on April 30, 2010.   Talyah has brought great joy (and little sleep) to Chandra and CJ.  


Cheryl Fusco, our beloved secretary, will retire from SWRC this month.   She has shown great strength and determination in her recovery from a stroke earlier this year.   Her own words announcing her retirement have been an inspiration to everyone at SWRC: "Although it is through grace that I have made it to where I am now, I still have more race to run. Right now all my effort is directed on running the course before me, concentrating on my health. This situation has made me realize how big life is and where I must focus. It was a difficult decision and came with much thought. I will miss all of you. Thank you for all your kindness and generosity during this stressful time. You will always have my gratitude."   Cheryl, we look forward to seeing your pink sha-na-na bike parked in the SWRC rack again soon.


The SWRC Tombstone Staff would like to welcome Chad Radford. Chad has accepted a position as a Hydrologic Technician at Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Tombstone with John Smith. He began his permanent appointment in February. Chad previously worked on the WGEW as a Hydrologic Technician in 2009 and in 2006 he installed and maintained equipment to monitor the Upper San Pedro Basin for the Upper San Pedro Project. Chad graduated from the University of Arizona in 2006 with a B.S. in Natural Resources Management.

Sapana Lohani joined SWRC on August 2009 as a student working with Philip Heilman. She is a PhD student at the UA, School of Natural Resource. She will be working on the economics of ecosystem services from rangeland watersheds. Sapana's background is environmental science. She did a Master's degree in Environmental Science from her home country, Nepal, and a second Master's degree in Natural Resource Management from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand.

Elizabeth (Beth) Freniere joined SWRC as a student working with Mary Nichols on rangeland soil and water conservation research. Beth is an undergraduate in the range program at the University of Arizona.


Steve Amesbury has been hired for the SERDP research project on southwestern ephemeral and intermittent streams, funded by the Dept. of Defense.   Steve is a PhD student at the UA, in the Office of Arid Lands Studies.   He will be working on the remote sensing analysis and classification of southwestern stream systems.   Steve's background as a biologist and interest in southwestern riparian ecology will be a great asset to this project.


Maria del Pilar Cendrero Mateo will be joining SWRC research through our specific cooperative agreement with the UA Dept. of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES).   She is starting a PhD program at SWES to study the physicochemical processes occurring inside plants and the relationship of this with the surroundings, particularly related to vegetation fluorescence.   Maria Pilar just completed her Master's degree in Environmental Science at University of Valencia Spain, where she also earned her Teaching Aptitude Certificate.   But that's not all... She loves tennis, volleyball and soccer, and she took a mild interest in this year's FIFA World Cup.   Congratulations Spain.




Yongguang Zhang completed his PhD this spring from Beijing Normal University.   Congratulations Yongguang!   He did the research for his PhD while with us here in Tucson, working on a comparative study between wind and water erosion rates at the Santa Ritas.   Yongguang's major professor in Beijing is Dr. Baoyuan Liu, with whom we have had close working ties for several years.   Dr. Zhang will be joining the University of Arizona as a Post-Doc working with Phil Guertin, Mariano Hernandez and Mark Nearing on improving functionality of the RHEM model and looking at the potential impacts of climate change on hydrologic and erosional function in the southwestern US.   His first job will be to publish his PhD research.

Congratulations to Zach Sugg.  He graduated last May with a Master's degree in Geography and Regional Development.   He completed an evaluation of the hydrologic implications of the native-to-Lehmann transition at Kendall entitled "Hydrologic response to pulse storm events during a native to exotic transition in a semiarid grassland".   A manuscript on this topic is ready for submission.   Just after graduation, Zach was awarded a full fellowship to the American Meteorological Society Policy Colloquium in Washington DC.   He plans to enter the PhD program at the UA Dept. of Geography and Regional Development in Fall 2010.   I'm sure we'll see Zach at SWRC frequently because he has become hard to replace.

Shea Burns earned his M.S. in Natural Resources with an emphasis on Watershed Management and Ecohydrology last May.  His thesis, titled "Reducing Uncertainty in Hydrological Modeling: A Step-Wise Multi-Scale Calibration Approach", used data from the Lucky Hills watershed in a calibration at plot, hillslope, and small watershed scales.  Shea will continue to work full-time with the AGWA team at the SWRC.


Important Reports and Visitors


An international delegation from the 2010 International Seminar on Watershed Management and the US Forest Service's Office of International Programs visited the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed on April 20th to learn about the role of experimental watersheds in understanding watershed processes. This year's group was especially large, with visitors from Gabon, Cameroon, Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cambodia, Philippines, Nepal, Ecuador, Haiti, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Greece.






Local students visited Walnut Gulch on May 17th, 2010 as part of the USDA/ARS's Future Scientists Program. Craig Wilson of Texas A and M designed the program to engage elementary and high schools students in science by giving them a hands-on experiment. Students are given corn ear worm eggs and a microscope/camera. The students formulate a hypothesis, perform an experiment to test the hypothesis, and then the Science Teacher and class present the results, this year at the Tombstone High School. The students talked about science and potential science careers with SWRC representatives Erik Hamerlynck, Phil Heilman, John Smith, and Chad Radford, before visiting Walnut Gulch. Everyone was impressed by the ability of a St. David school bus to drive "offroad" all the way to the Kendall experimental watershed. Participating schools included: Benson M.S., Buena H.S., Elgin Elementary, Palominas School, St. David Elementary and H.S., Tombstone H.S., Valley View Elementary, and Valley Union H.S. Craig Wilson hopes to expand the program to more area schools next year.


Russ Scott hosted a Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) group consisting of four Chinese scientists that visited SWRC researchers and the watershed on July 7 and 8th.  This group of meteorologists looked at land-atmosphere interactions (water and CO2 exchange) in semiarid lands.



Technology Transfer




Technology:  Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model.

Transfer:  Released to public through the RHEM website

Customer/User:  Rangeland scientists, extension agents, and landuse managers

Impact/Outcome:  New ability to incorporate the effect of management and climate on erosion in rangeland planning and evaluation methods such as CEAP, Rangeland Health, and State and Transition Models.



Technology:  WEPPCAT - WEPP Climate Assessment Tool

Transfer: Released to public through the WEPPCAT website

Customer/User:Scientists, extension agents, and landuse managers

Impact/Outcome: This tool allows for the assessment of changes in erosion rates as a consequence of user-defined climate change scenarios including changes in rainfall, temperature, solar radiation, and atmospheric CO2 concentrations.



Technology:  Website to distribute Facilitator Decision Support System in cooperation with Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.

Transfer:Maintain and update code for open source project

Customer/User:New customers in 2010 include Texas State University-San Marcos, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Agren, Inc.

Impact/Outcome:  Provide multiobjective support for watershed decision making.



Technology:  An example of a tool implementing Step 5 of the NRCS conservation planning process designed to

Transfer:Create and maintain site.


Impact/Outcome:  Serving as a model for part of a new NRCS IT system, currently under development.



Technology:  A prototype tool based on constrained optimization to create a ranch scale budget to assess the cost to ranchers of adopting conservation measures to reduce erosion and sedimentation.

Transfer:Create and maintain site.

Customer/User:Arizona watershed planning efforts.

Impact/Outcome:Tool is being improved and incorporated into AGWA.

Technology:  Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) Tool web)

Transfer:Documentation, supporting papers and presentations, software to download, and tutorials.

Customer/User:Other Federal, local and state government agencies; consultants, researchers and graduate students.

Impact/Outcome:To date, over 1600 users from 85 countries for AGWA 1.5 and over 1600 users from 146 countries have registered and downloaded the AGWA 2.0 software. AGWA has been formally adapted branches of EPA and NASA in addition to extensive use by USDA, USDOI, and DOC (NWS) and by consultants and research investigators and students.


Technology: KINEROS rainfall-runoff-erosion model

Transfer: Documentation, supporting papers and presentations, software to download, and tutorials.

Customer:  Other Federal, local and state government agencies; consultants, researchers and graduate students both nationally and internationally.

Impact/Outcome:  Over a thousand users from both the US and internationally have downloaded the KINEROS software and documentation. KINEROS is a widely used event-based watershed modeling program. 


Technology: The SALSA (Semi-Arid Land Surface Atmosphere) Research Program Website to document projects, participants, data, and research results of the SALSA research program. (

Transfer:  SALSA Research Program participants, programs, and results

Customer:Researchers, the Upper San Pedro Partnership, and the Public

Impact/Outcome:  While the SALSA program wound down in 2000, requests to maintain, and use of this site remains high to disseminate San Pedro data and SALSA research results



Technology: Website to document science issues on Middle San Pedro watershed for the Community Watershed Alliance.

Transfer:Create and maintain site.

Customer:Technical Advisory Committee of the Community Watershed Alliance.

Impact/Outcome: Share technical information on the Middle San Pedro with researchers and public.



Technology: Website to support application of remotely sensed information on rangelands.

Transfer: Create and maintain site.

Customer: NRCS in Arizona and New Mexico.

Impact/Outcome:  Supports exploratory analysis of management impact on canopy cover, adjusted for PRISM precipitation, across both states.  




The 7th Annual Research Insights in Semiarid Environments (RISE) conference is scheduled for Saturday 2 October 2010 at University of Arizona.   Nearly 100 people attended the 6th Annual RISE in 2009 and the discussions at the poster session were lively.   Check out the agenda and register at


SWRC received a set of 4 gamma-ray spectrometers to undertake a new research program in the use of isotopes for tracking and understanding the movement and redistribution of sediment and carbon in landscapes.   We are in the process of setting up the new isotope facility.   One of our first projects will be looking at the use of 137Cs to quantify historic erosion rates on rangelands across ecosystems in the western United States.


An ARS Experimental Watersheds/Ranges/Facilities meeting will be held in Beltsville, MD to foster greater network coordination of these outdoor laboratories and network level research and analysis to address regional and national challenges such as global change.  David Goodrich is co-organizing the meeting and will be representing the SWRC.


David Goodrich has been invited to make a presentation entitled "A Framework for the Valuation of Riparian Ecosystem Services in the Semiarid Southwest" to the Interagency Steering Committee on Multimedia Environmental Modeling on Sept. 14th in Vicksburg, Mississippi.


The ARS Water Availability and Watershed Management National Program (#211) will be holding its 5 year stakeholder planning meeting in Chicago Sept. 8-10, 2010 in preparation for preparing our next 5-year research plans.  Jeff Stone, Phil Heilman, and David Goodrich will be representing the SWRC


The San Pedro Ecosystem Services Valuation Workshop will be held at the SWRC the week of Sept. 20th, 2010 in which a number of valuation tools and methods will be inter-compared in a common geographic location.  Participants include representatives from federal agencies, universities and private firms.


USDA- NRCS and USDA-ARS-SWRC conducted a study, based on modeling and statistical sampling approach, to review our current knowledge of the status of raindrop splash and sheet flow erosion on non-Federal land in the 17 western States. Hillslope scale soil erosion rates were estimated using the USDA-ARS newly developed Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM).   Data collected by the Rangeland National Resources Inventory (NRI) between 2003 and 2006 at over 10,000 sites across the western United States was used to parameterize RHEM and estimate hillslope scale soil loss. Currently, maps representing annual hillslope soil loss of the western United States are being generated to illustrate areas with accelerated soil loss (>2 ton/acre) that will likely lead to unsustainable plant communities and a loss of ecosystem goods and services.   The findings of this study will be reported in the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act report of the NRCS in January 2011.





Shea Burnswas tied for 1st place in the student paper competition at the 2010 Joint Federal Interagency Conference for his paper on his MS research titled "Multi-Scale Calibration of KINEROS-DWEPP, a Combined Physically-Based Hydrologic Model and Process-Based Soil Erosion Model".   Great work, Shea.


Mary Nichols'work to integrate high resolution photography and rangeland monitoring was featured in the recent "Science and Society" issue of GigaPan Magazine.  Methods for using the GigaPan system for documenting and quantifying riparian areas, landscape scale change, and plot scale vegetation characteristics are being developed in collaboration with Drs. Mike Crimmins and George Ruyle at the University of Arizona.

Additional high resolution rangeland images can be found at:


Russ Scottwas awarded an OECD fellowship to work with researchers at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Toledo, Spain) and University of Granada on water and carbon dioxide exchange from semiarid shrub ecosystems. He will be working there this fall.   Saludos.


Wade Crow (ARS, Beltsville), Kelly Thorp (ARS, Maricopa), Susan Moran (ARS, Tucson), Rolf Reichle (NASA-GSFC) and Grey Nearing (UA) were awarded a NASA grant to study "Ecological and agricultural productivity forecasting using root-zone soil moisture products derived from the NASA SMAP mission".