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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322739

Research Project: AGRICULTURAL LAND MANAGEMENT TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCTIVITY AND NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION AT FARM AND WATERSHED SCALES

Location: Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research

Title: Impact of eastern redcedar encroachment on stream discharge in the North Canadian River basin

Author
item Starks, Patrick - Pat
item Moriasi, Daniel

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/17/2016
Publication Date: 1/15/2017
Citation: Starks, P.J., Moriasi, D.N. 2017. Impact of eastern redcedar encroachment on stream discharge in the North Canadian River basin. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 72(1):12-25.

Interpretive Summary: Eastern redcedar is a woody plant that is rapidly encroaching into the grasslands of the US Great Plains. There is some concern that redcedar will adversely impact stream flows in these water-limited areas due to increased transpiration and canopy interception of redcedar in comparison to that of grasslands. We conducted a modeling study in the central reach of the North Canadian River Basin, in central Oklahoma, between Lake Canton and Lake Overholser. The North Canadian River supplies about 25% of Oklahoma City’s water supply. After model calibration, we simulated redcedar encroachment into the study area’s grasslands in 10% increments to assess impact on stream flows. We also performed simulations that represented complete removal of redcedar from the study area. Our simulations suggested that if all grasslands in the study area were replaced by redcedar, the simulated reduction in stream discharge would exceed current water demands in the basin and would account for 89% of the projected 2060 demand. However, a more realistic conversion of 20% of grassland to redcedar would, according to our simulations, reduce stream flow by an amount of water equivalent to ˜ 27% of the current water demand, or ˜ 21% of the projected 2060 demand.

Technical Abstract: Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) is a woody plant that is rapidly encroaching into the grasslands of states located in the US Great Plains. There is some concern that redcedar will adversely impact stream discharge in these water-limited areas through increased transpiration and canopy interception in comparison to that of grasslands. We conducted a modeling study in the central reach of the North Canadian River Basin between Lake Canton and Lake Overholser, located in central Oklahoma. The North Canadian River supplies about 25% of Oklahoma City’s water supply. After model calibration, we simulated redcedar encroachment into the study area’s grasslands in 10% increments to assess impact on stream discharge. We also performed simulations that represented complete removal of redcedar from the study area. Our simulations suggested that if all grasslands in the study area were replaced by redcedar, the simulated reduction in stream discharge would equal 112% of current demand and 89% of the projected 2060 demand. However, a more realistic conversion of 20% of grassland to redcedar would, according to our simulations, reduce stream discharge by an amount of water equivalent to ˜ 27% of the current water demand, or ˜ 21% of the projected 2060 demand.