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TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS AND NATURAL DISTURBANCE: WILDFIRES AND FOREST WATERSHEDS

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Watershed Management to Meet Water Quality Standards and Emerging TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Proceedings of the Third Conference 5-9 March 2005 (Atlanta, Georgia USA) Publication Date 5 March 2005  701P0105.(doi:10.13031/2013.18056)
Authors:   George G. Ice
Keywords:   Best Management Practice (BMP), disturbance, fire, sediment, temperature, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), water quality, watershed

Natural disturbance events can dramatically alter watershed conditions, stream habitats, and water quality. While immediate impacts are often undesirable for beneficial uses, there can be long-term benefits that enhance watershed conditions. When natural disturbance events occur in watersheds listed as impaired under 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, management options may be delayed. The 500,000 acre Biscuit Fire in southwest Oregon provides an example of such an overlap. Watershed managers need to factor disturbance into Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) assessments and to view watershed condition in terms of favorable distributions, not single target conditions. Best Management Practices (BMPs) can embrace and recognize disturbance events and provide resilient and beneficial watershed conditions to promote a positive response to natural disturbance.

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