International Arid Lands Consortium Creates Watershed Management Database

International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) expands web site on Watershed Management in the Southwest to include extensive database

August 3, 2000 (Tucson, AZ)-- In its continuing commitment to aid in the global effor to ensure safe, continuing water supply in arid regions, The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) has funded a project that aims to develop innovative electronic tools for improved watershed management, and a new program for educational outreach to facilitate their application. In this study, watershed information from the U.S. Forest Service and training and information dissemination by the University of Arizona's Cooperative Extension Service are joined with expertise in the Arid Lands Information Center and the Arizona Remote Sensing Center of the University of Arizona's Office of Arid Lands Studies.

Phase one of the project resulted in the creation of a Web site, "Watershed Management in the Southwest," which provides a variety of background material about watershed management, specifically the Beaver Creek Experimental Watershed (BCEW). "This site currently receives around 3,500 hits per week," according to Barbara Hutchinson, Director of the Arid Lands Information Center. "The continuing project will expand on the current site by making available 20-years of data collected on the various experimental treatment areas of the 275,000 acre Beaver Creek Experimental Watershed."

The data will be imported into a database allowing flexible searching via the Web. In addition, a Web interface will be developed that will allow the data to be searched and graphed. It also will incorporate GIS information with layers of data illustrating a variety of factors regarding precipitation, stream flow, sediment, water quality, vegetation, and wildlife. Besides providing access to this data, records will be entered into electronic format from the Whitespar Experimental Watershed. Whitespar is chaparral shrubland, which contrasts with the ponderosa pine and pinyon-juniper vegetation of the BCEW. Once input into a database, the Whitespar and BCEW information will be linked to allow comparisons. Clientele are expected to include scientists, teachers, students, and land managers.

IALC support not only allows for integration and expansion of the current Web site, but also development and implementation of a Master Watershed Stewards Program (MWS) in Yavapai County, modeled on successful programs in Washington, Ohio, and Alaska. This portion of the project trains volunteers, who in turn will train others, about aspects of watershed management.

"Besides teaching techniques for measuring stream flow and water quality, the MWS program will demonstrate the database to community members on how to use this electronic tool for instruction and research," says Hutchinson. "It will also be a model for other counties to follow." Additionally, instructional materials developed for the MWS Program will be adapted for the Web site, which can be used by other similar programs and by schoolteachers.



The International Arid Lands Consortium (IALC) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the problems and solutions unique to arid and semiarid regions. IALC promotes cooperative research and practical application of new knowledge to develop sustainable ecological practices. The member institutions and their affiliates share a mission to enable people of arid lands to improve the quality of life for future generations. IALC members include the University of Arizona, Desert Research Institute-Nevada, the University of Illinois, Jewish National Fund, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and the Higher Council for Science & Technology-Jordan. The Ministry of Agriculture & Land Reclamation-Egypt is an affiliate member.

Project Addressed in this News Release:
  • 98R-07 Physically active soil organic matter: Key factor in arid land reclamation? (New Mexico State University, University of Illinois, Bar-Ilan University-Israel)