Watershed Sciences Department News
2021 USGS, Utah Cooperative Unit Annual Report
The 2021 Annual Report for the U.S. Geological Survey, Utah Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit.
Building Beaver Dams: USU Students and Volunteers Team Up In Habitat Restoration Project
Watershed Sciences faculty, staff, and capstone and Master of Ecological Restoration students work to improve stream conditions on Birch Creek in southeast Idaho.
USU Names Linda Nagel as Dean for Quinney College of Natural Resources
Linda Nagel will be joining Utah State University as dean of the S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources in August.
Another One Bites the Dust: Measuring Dust Pollution From the Shrinking Great Salt Lake
A team of graduate students at USU are working to measure airborne dust as water levels recede at the Great Salt Lake, monitoring what could be the start of an ecological disaster. Some of the dust carries toxic pollutants composed of heavy metals and syn...
UPR's UnDisciplined: what will happen to Utah's 'greatest snow' when there's no more snow?
Utah's title of "greatest snow" is at risk due to climate change. Listen to Jordan Smith and Patrick Belmont discuss this issue on UPR's UnDisciplined.
QCNR Undergrad Researcher Cristina Chirvasa Named Goldwater Scholar
Cristina Chirvasa is one of three USU Goldwater Scholars in 2022, one of the nation's top recognitions for undergraduate STEM scholars.
Get the Fossil Fuels Turned Off: Soft Climate Denial, Accountability, and Community
Dr. Patrick Belmont joins the Climate Convos podcast to talk about the different forms of climate denial we see in our own lives and how we can hold ourselves accountable to dealing with the reality of the climate crisis.
Connecting Our Values, Science, and Technology to Solve Climate Change
View the presentation and resources covering the most up-to-date science, risks to the things we value most, and what each of us can do to protect a stable climate and healthy environment for future generations.
Warm weather, lack of rain impacts Arizona's Grand Canyon
Jack Schmidt was featured on FOX Weather where he discussed the extreme drought in the west and its impact on the Grand Canyon.
Locally Sourced: Pelican Prefer Native Fish to Sportfish at Utah's Strawberry Reservoir
American white pelicans who pause their migration at Strawberry Reservoir are filling their bellies with native species like Utah sucker for the most part, leaving cutthroat trout to the human anglers. Phaedra Budy, Gary Thiede, Kevin Chapman, and Frank H...
Watershed Sciences Undergraduate Researcher Cristina Chirvasa on One Way to Reduce Algal Blooms in Utah Lake
Chirvasa is featured on the latest episode of the Instead Podcast, a production of the USU Office of Research.
Never Too Much Paddling, Skiing, or Commitment to Rivers - Just Not Enough Time
Bunny Sterin, who left Master of Ecological Restoration students a scholarship opportunity by the same name, made conservation her life's work.
Evaluating the Accuracy of Reclamation’s 24-Month Study Lake Powell Projections
A new white paper from the Center for Colorado River Studies shows that the water inflow projections for Lake Powell have been largely overestimated, partially due to the use of the exceptionally wet decades of the 1980s and '90s as a reference period.
Research from Dr. Sarah Null is being used in efforts to reverse the decline of the Great Salt Lake
Problems, solutions, and potential legislative action are explored in this week's Salt Lake City Weekly.
USU Spring Runoff Conference Returns this March 29
This year’s theme is Forecasting and Adapting to Drought, one of the most prominent issues in Utah and the Western US. Registration and abstract submissions are open.
Bunny Sterin Master of Ecological Restoration Scholarship Application Period is Open!
The scholarship is available to MoER students who started the program in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.
New Research Advocates Basic Strategy for Native Fish Recovery: Access to Water
Research from Casey Pennock, Phaedra Budy, Wally Macfarlane, and Jack Schmidt shows that something as seemingly simple as maintaining natural streamflow in a river is absolutely critical for fish populations.
WATS is Hiring a USGS Co-op Fish & Wildlife Research Unit Research Fish Biologist
The tenure-track Assistant Professor position application period is open through February 17.
A Lake in Peril: Researchers Participate in First Summit on Threats to the Great Salt Lake
The iconic Great Salt Lake is in serious trouble, and lawmakers are noticing. Water levels in the lake have reached record lows. The first Great Salt Lake Summit happened this month, inviting experts from around the country, including researchers from USU...
Scientists see silver lining in fed’s latest efforts to avoid ‘dead pool’ at Lake Powell
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday that it plans to adjust management protocols for the Colorado River in early 2022 to reduce monthly releases from Lake Powell in an effort to keep the reservoir from dropping further below 2021's historic lo...
Dr. Phaedra Budy's Research on Bonneville Cutthroat Trout Selected for Award
The paper was announced as the best publication for 2020 in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society at the recent AFS Annual Meeting in Baltimore.
In the News: New Colorado River Water Savings Plan Doesn't Go Far Enough, Researcher Warns
A new story in Arizona Daily Star amplifies research results from the Center for Colorado River Studies, pointing out that emergency plans for water saving in the Colorado River likely won’t be enough.
New USU Institute Releases Inaugural Report on Natural Resources in Utah
A new institute at USU that focuses on sharing evidence-based research with state decision-makers released its 2021 Report to the Governor on Utah’s Land, Water, and Air.
Benevolent Alum’s Legacy Lives on in Watershed Science Education
The Watershed Sciences community is deeply grateful for the generosity of late USU alum Bunny Sterin who donated funds to establish a scholarship for students in the Master of Ecological Restoration degree program.
2022 JEDI Graduate Research Fellowship Application Period is Now Open Through January 15
The JEDI fellowship will be awarded to an individual that has a demonstrated record of supporting diversity and inclusion in science.
USU Professor Joined Instead Podcast to Discuss Plastic in Atmospheric Dust
Dr. Janice Brahney joined the Instead Podcast to discuss the prevalence of microplastics in our atmosphere, water, and land.
Head Above Water: Major Grant Awarded for Research on Water Markets
A new grant will allow researchers to determine how water markets can be used to make water management systems more resilient.
Drought and drawdown create a house of horrors
PhD student Jack McLaren and Dr. Phaedra Budy study shrinking fish habitat due to water drawdowns in the Island Park Reservoir of the Henrys Fork in the latest issue of Lakeline.
Reservoirs are crucial to Utah’s water system, and they’re running low
USU's Drs. Patrick Belmont and David Rosenberg provide commentary in this piece from KUER on the importance of how well the state of Utah stores and conserves water, especially during this drought.
Managing Water Stored for the Environment During Drought
Dr. Sarah Null examined operating California reservoirs for ecosystems during drought to understand what went wrong and offer recommendations for the next drought.
USU's Chris Luecke to Leave Post as Natural Resources Dean
Chris Luecke, dean of Utah State University’s S. J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources (QCNR), announced he will step down from his leadership post, effective July 2022.
2020 Highlights from the BLM Aquatic Habitat Management Program
What can a team focused on the conservation and restoration of riparian, fisheries, and water resources accomplish in a year? Quite a bit! The AHM program is led by WATS faculty Dr. Scott Miller.
Colorado River levels continue to decline. What does this mean for the future?
Dr. Jack Schmidt is featured in this video from Denver7 ABC News to discuss issues surrounding the Colorado River.
You’re Breathing in Microplastics, But What Does That Mean for Your Health?
Dr. Janice Brahney is featured in this video, produced by Seeker, discussing how airborne microplastics end up in the atmosphere and what happens when we breathe them in.
Packing it Out Utah Style: Successful Statewide Trails and Waterways Cleanup
Hope Braithwaite organized the Utah State University Water Quality Extension event, “Pack It Out Utah” which ended on Sunday. It was the second statewide trails and waterways volunteer cleanup event, bringing together volunteers from across the state to r...
Watershed Sciences is Hiring Two Climate Focused Assistant Professor Positions
We are seeking applications for a full-time 12-month tenure-track Assistant Professor Extension Specialist position in Climate Resiliency and a full-time 9-month tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Climate Data Analysis.
Decisions Downstream: Exhibit at Merrill-Cazier Library Offers Hands-On Look at Watersheds
Decisions Downstream combines the research of Dr. Sarah Null and the work of local Utah artists and the Natural History Museum of Utah. The exhibit is now on display at the USU library.
In Focus Discussion: Climate Change
Following the release of the most recent report from the IPCC, Drs. Patrick Belmont, Robert Davies, and Juliet Carlisle are featured in this ABC4 Utah In Focus discussion on climate change.
USU Extension Webinar on Climate Change Communication
Thursday, September 2 at 1:30pm, join USU physicist Dr. Rob Davies to discuss how Extension is poised to play an outsize role in moving us to the “all hands on deck” posture that we must achieve in the face of global climate change.
FIRED UP: Wildlife, Fish and Water Security in Utah
Have you ever wondered how wildfire, fish, and water security are interconnected? Patrick Belmont presented at Swaner Preserve and Ecocenter in Park City Thursday, Aug. 12. Click to view his talk.
Meet Sarah Null, Newest PPIC CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow
Dr. Sarah Null is the latest appointed Public Policy Institute of California CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow. Sarah's work focuses on innovations for storing and utilizing ground and surface water to improve the health of ecosystems.
What It Means to Store Water for the Environment
Dr. Sarah Null is a PPIC CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow working to find out how best to protect vulnerable ecosystems and the water resources they rely on.
Wetlands are a Cost-Effective Way to Improve Water Quality Downstream of Agricultural Land
Research coauthored by Drs. Patrick Belmont and Peter Wilcock highlights the importance of fluvial wetlands in slowing the flow of sediment and fertilizer pollutants.
Green Storms in Blue Water: Unexplained Algae Blooms Increasing in Freshwater Lakes
Research by Dr. Soren Brothers conveys the unpredictable appearance of algal blooms in freshwater lakes that are less impacted by pollution and recreation.
Hard Choices are Ahead for the Colorado River, but One Scientist's Voice is Making Waves
A new article appearing in Science Magazine features Jack Schmidt, director of the Center for Colorado River Studies, who 'thinks big and speaks candidly,' and may just be what the doctor ordered for the struggling Colorado River.
The Colorado River is shrinking. Hard choices lie ahead, this scientist warns.
As the American West grapples with extreme drought and climate change, Dr. Jack Schmidt's voice, research, and leadership are paramount in answering the great question of how best to manage the diminishing water resources of the Colorado River.
Tracking Trout Movement to Understand Waterway Adaptations
Award-winning research out of the Department of Watershed shows that Bonneville Cutthroat trout have developed coping mechanisms to adapt to some waterway interruptions.
Decisions Downstream Video by NHMU Features the Work of Dr. Sarah Null
The exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah can still be visited through the month of July.
We drink it, we breathe it: Microplastics are 'everywhere we look,' Utah scientists say
Dr. Janice Brahney and grad student Macy Gustavus are featured on KSL 5 News highlighting the prevalence of microplastics all around the Earth.
Plastic Planet: Tracking Pervasive Microplastics Across the Globe
Microplastics are so pervasive that they now affect how plants grow, waft through the air one breathes, and permeates distant ecosystems.
Sticks and Stones in Streams: National Focus on Simple Actions to Promote Self-Sustaining Solutions
Joe Wheaton and a cadre of researchers from Utah State University’s Department of Watershed Sciences is garnering national attention for its efficacy to restore riverscapes to healthier and more resilient states.
Charles (Chuck) Hawkins Receives Award of Excellence from Society for Freshwater Science
Charles (Chuck) Hawkins, has earned the prestigious Award of Excellence from the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) for 2021.
Belmont Examines Climate Denial
Dr. Patrick Belmont presents on climate change denial at TEDxUSU.
QCNR 2021 Awards Recipients
Congratulations to all the recipients of S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources (QCNR) Awards for 2021!
Dr. Trisha Atwood Contributes Assessment featured in a NY Times Article
Dr. Trisha Atwood contributed to the assessment of global carbon emissions from trawling in an article that is featured in the NY Times.
Exhibit at NHMU Offers Hands-On Access to Real Consequences of Watershed Decisions
Sarah Null knows that there’s a lot more in a river than just water. In a new exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah, Null, associate professor in the Department of Watershed Sciences, and her colleagues, use art, interactive exhibits and accessibl...
QCNR 2021 Spring News Roundup
Catch up with what our faculty and staff have been doing at the Quinney College of Natural Resources over the past 6 months.
By Hook And By Creek. Persistence is Key.
With 10 years of monitoring data on the Right Hand Fork indicating that the brown trout in this stream were negatively impacting the entire cutthroat trout population in the Logan River. A USU research team proposed a combined effort to conserve the popul...
Slow Motion Disaster: Receding Glaciers Open Space for Invading Algae
Glaciers in western Canada are headed into a slow-motion disaster—these ice fields are disappearing at a rate that’s nearly twice the global average thanks to climate change, and major ecological disruptions follow in their wake.
Dr. Patrick Belmont Presenting at USU's TEDx
Dr. Patrick Belmont will be presenting at USU's TEDx event on Friday, March 5th. The presentations will be from 6-8 pm.
New research demonstrates crucial role of World Heritage marine sites in fighting climate change
UNESCO today released the first global scientific assessment of its World Heritage marine sites’ blue carbon ecosystems, highlighting the critical environmental value of these habitats. While these sites represent less than 1% of the world’s oceans, they ...
Decisions Downstream: New Art-Science Exhibit Offers Insights into Watershed Connections
To find a way to help people understand how their choices affect both habitats and humans, Dr. Sarah Null recruited artists to create large-format images, paintings and interactive exhibits based on her research.
Dousing the Flames: USU Investigates how Wildfires Impact Utah's Water Supply Reservoirs
As winter 2021 in Utah continues to provide much-needed late winter snowfall, hydrologists say the state currently sits at 80% of normal snowpack. And researchers at Utah State University are already looking ahead to fire season by investigating how wildf...
New report confronts tough choices for the future of the Colorado River
The new publication builds upon a 2020 white paper, “Strategies for Managing the Colorado River in an Uncertain Future.” Wheeler et. al ran scenarios for various planning strategies on one of the most managed rivers in the world, the Colorado, to better u...
Arctic Stew: Understanding How High-Latitude Lakes Respond to and Affect Climate Change
New research from Soren Brothers, assistant professor Utah State University Department of Watershed Sciences and Ecology Center, details how lakes in Nunavut could have a big impact on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and it’s not all bad news—at ...
Celebrating the History of Women in the QCNR
This video, created by undergraduate students in our college, takes a look into the history of women in the Quinney College of Natural Resources.
JEDI Graduate Research Fellowships
As part of our commitment to creating a more just and equitable world, the Department of Watershed Sciences is offering two JEDI research fellowships, starting August 2021.
QCNR Professor Joseph Wheaton Recognized with 2020 Gordon Warwick Award
The year 2020 has changed how so much of the world is delivered, including the delivery of recognitions and awards. Joseph Wheaton, associate professor from the S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources Watershed Sciences Department at Utah St...
How beavers became North America's best firefighter
The rodent creates fireproof refuges for many species, suggesting wildlife managers should protect beaver habitat as the U.S. West burns. (Email Sign-in Required to Read)
Ron Goede: April 3, 1934 - August 29, 2020
Emeritus Adjunct Professor, Ron Goede recently passed away. A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, September 27, 2020.
WATS Doctoral Student Christy Leonard Receives GSA Research Grant
“Our scholars always do well in this competition and we are so fortunate to have such great graduate students,” says James “Jim” Evans, professor in USU’s Department of Geosciences. “We’re also fortunate to have strong support for our students from profe...
After the Smoke Clears: watersheds recovering from wildfire, with Dr. Patrick Belmont
In this episode of Instead with Dr. Patrick Belmont, you will learn– How streams and fish can benefit from wildfire. How much disturbance is too much. And, what Utah has in common with California wildfires.
Cambodia’s biggest lake is running dry, taking forests and fish with it
Drought and dams have pushed Tonle Sap into dangerous decline, threatening its swamp forests and the fish nurseries there that provide most of the nation's protein.
Herbivores, Not Predators, Most At Risk of Extinction
One million years ago, the extinction of large-bodied plant-eaters changed the trajectory of life on Earth. The disappearance of these large herbivores reshaped plant life, altered fire regimes across Earth’s landscapes, and modified biogeochemical cyclin...
Enlisting Private Land Owners in Conservation is Essential to Saving Endangered Species
In 1872 the United States created Yellowstone, the first National Park in the world. Since then many more parks, monuments, preserves, wildernesses and other protected areas have been created in the USA. Protected areas, like Yellowstone, are invaluable, ...
More than 1,000 Tons of Plastic Rains into Western U.S. Protected Lands Annually
Utah State University Assistant Professor Janice Brahney and her team used high-resolution atmospheric deposition data and identified samples of microplastics and other particulates collected over 14 months in 11 national parks and wilderness areas. The r...
As Interest in Local Food Grows, Water Pollution Shouldn't
As a result of recent events, including the earthquake and coronavirus pandemic, more Utahns than ever are interested in growing and producing their own food. While this is a great opportunity to become sustainable, it should not happen at the cost of Uta...
Filling the Gap: Study Finds Carbon Emissions Globally Underestimated
Back in 2013 Matthias Koschorreck, a biologist in the Department of Lake Research at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Germany, on a whim decided to take some measurements in the catchment of a small river in Catalonia, Spain that h...
Eating Like a Bird: NSF Grant Keeps Tabs on Geese Herbivory and Carbon in the Yukon
The Earth’s carbon can be stored in trees and plants, in the ocean, in fossil fuels deep underground, and in the soil directly beneath our feet. It is pulled from these natural stockpiles when plants decay, when humans burn coal for energy, when wildfires...
USU Professor Discusses Threats to the Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake is facing multiple threats that put ecosystems, economies and species at risk, said Wayne Wurtsbaugh, Utah State University professor during a “Canyon Conversations” lecture Saturday morning.