Contextual systems description of an Oregon coastal watershed Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/4t64gq96j

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  • Many resource management controversies indicate disagreement about the possible intended and unintended effects of management actions on ecosystems. Researchers have documented a variety of negative effects on specific ecosystems, e. g. the degradation of salmonid habitat due to mass wasting (Hagans et al. 1986). While the effects of some management actions are reversible, others change systems capacities and are therefore irreversible, e.g. the poisoning of Kesterson Wildlife Refuge with selenium due to agricultural practices (Schuler 1987). The difference between reversible and irreversible management effects is often a matter of scale. Management actions that are out of concordance with the properties of a system have the potential to irreversibly change a system if applied over large spatial and temporal scales. Using the method of contextual watershed classification (Warren 1979) the concordance of forest management with the properties of the Yaquina drainage (an Oregon coastal watershed of 220 sq. mi. size) and its environmental class (the North-central Coast Range) are evaluated. For this purpose, the watershed and its environment are classified according to five components: climate, substrate, biota, water, and culture. Properties are selected that are rather invariant and general, and therefore reflect the potential capacities of system and environment. The climatic, geologic, geomorphic, and hydrologic characteristics are compared to trophic relationships and life history traits of selected tree species in an attempt to understand the biophysical relationships in the forest environment that dominates the watershed. It is found that commonly applied harvest regimes are out of concordance with the biophysical environment and thus have the potential to lead to resource loss. Alternative management practices that would be more concordant with resource properties are proposed. The influence of dominant world views (namely mechanism, realism, rationalism, individualism, utilitarianism, and elitism) on the forest planning process and on the opinions of community leaders is evaluated. It is found that forest management practices, although they are out of concordance with the biophysical environment, are in concordance with the larger cultural environment and the perceptions and opinions of local community leaders. Hence, adopting new practices that are more concordant with the biophysical environment will be difficult. The major hindrance is located in the economic sphere. Concerns relating to the economical sphere are discussed and a probable route to more concordant resource use is proposed.
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