Forest Inventory and Analysis: What it Tells Us About Water Quality in ArkansasThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Forests and forest activities have a significant impact on the amount and quality of surface water in Arkansas. Recognizing this important relationship between forests and water quality, we utilized the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data from Arkansas to better understand how forest land use in Arkansas has likely influenced the water quality in the State during the past 17 years. Five specific types of FIA information were considered to be important indicators of, or strongly correlated with,water quality: (1)the land area in forest cover, (2)age distribution of forests,(3)amount of harvesting an timber removal, 4)amounts of riparian forests and, 5)health and vigor of the Arkansas forests.Information from the FIA database suggests that water quality attributed to forest land use should have increased or at least remained the same over the past 17 years. These conclusions reflect an increased amount of forest lands within the State,increases in important riparian forest area in the Delta and Southwestern region, a general maturing of Arkansas forests, and increased growing-stock volumes during this time period. Timber removals in the State have increased,but any potentially negative water quality effects of forest harvesting have most likely been offset by increases in forest area and a general maturing of the resource.