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Watershed Hydrology - (NRSM 385)

Credits: 3 | Offered: Autumn and Spring
Prerequisites: M 115 or M 121 or M 122 or M 151 or M 162 or M 171 or M 172
Instructor(s): Kevin Hyde


An introduction to physical and biological controls over water movement and storage in the environment, and how those controls are affected by land management practices.

Who should take this course?

Watershed hydrology is the science of water as it applies to streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers, with a particular emphasis on the ecological value of those resources. Watershed hydrology is a required class for students majoring in either of the options for the BS degree in Forestry. However, any student with an interest in watershed hydrology and the protection and management of water resources should seriously consider taking this class.

Why is this class important?

As the saying goes here in the West: “Whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over”. The use, distribution and protection of the region’s limited water resources has been and continues to be a primary natural resource management issue here in the Rocky Mountain west. As a society we need to balance fair and equitable availability of water to all users with the need to protect and maintain the ecological and aesthetic values of our streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers. The knowledge obtained from this class will give students the ability to contribute to the ongoing discussion about water in the West, and to make sound decisions regarding water resources in their future professional lives.

What will I learn?

In the first part of the semester students learn about the hydrologic cycle, the way in which water moves from the atmosphere to the ground and into rivers and streams. Students will learn about hydrological processes such as rainfall, snowmelt, evapotranspiration, and runoff. They will also learn techniques for predicting and quantifying the rate and timing of these processes. In the second part of the semester we apply our knowledge of watershed hydrology and the hydrological cycle to issues in watershed management. For example, we discuss the hydrological effects of forest harvest and roads, and ways to minimize or avoid the downstream ecological impacts of these activities.

How do I succeed in the class?

The biggest key to success in this class is to attend lectures! Students who fail to attend lectures find it extremely difficult to understand the material sufficiently to do well in the three exams which form the basis for grading. Students experiencing difficulty with class material are strongly encouraged to talk with Dr. Woods after class or during office hours.