Community Partner

Marc Stewart (USGS)

First Advisor

Joseph Maser

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Management (MEM)


Environmental Science and Management




Forest hydrology -- Oregon -- Columbia River Gorge, Eagle Creek (Or.) -- Hydrology, Stream temperature -- Effect of forest fires on, Sediment transport -- Effect of forest fires on, Water levels -- Oregon -- Eagle Creek




When investigating forested watersheds devastated by wildfire, the wide range of disturbance can lead to altering hydrological effects through the loss in ground cover vegetation, canopy cover, while also disrupting soil characteristics. Within the Pacific Northwest, forested drainages affected by post-fire disturbance are further altered in areas that experience seasonal rainfall and snow melt events. When looking at the post-fire sloped areas of Eagle Creek and Tanner Creek within the Columbia Gorge of Oregon, the loss of ground cover and organic matter throughout these two watersheds pose a legitimate concern for erosion events as well as hydrological changes due to sediment transport and increased surface water runoff. With the loss of ground cover due to fire, the reduction in rainfall interception and surface water storage elevates the chances of rapid runoff further increasing the volume of surface water runoff. This post-fire decrease in ground cover protection against persistent rainfall raises the chances of soil detachment by overland flow eventually leading to erosion concerns within a given area of the landscape. Differences in fire severity throughout these drainages also increase a risk of altering the forested landscape and pose future risks of erosion and public safety knowing these areas were heavily used prior to the 2017 Eagle Creek forest fire. This project examines the importance of monitoring the hydrological effects, including stream temperature and surface water stream levels following a forest fire. The data collected through this ongoing project have produced a set hydrologic data for water stream levels as well as water temperature readings. The data sets are compiled with regional weather service data to help understand potential relationships between water stage levels and precipitation as well as relationships between local air temperature fluctuations and stream temperature. This report also presents the overall process involved when collecting data regarding the potential changes in sediment loads, surface water storage, and increased surface water runoff. The overall goal of this project and report is to collect and analyze baseline data for monitoring post-fire effects for both Eagle Creek and Tanner Creek watersheds. Helping to understand these post-fire hydrologic responses can also help provide data for effective risk management within a popular publicly accessible area.


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