Spring Vulnerability Study for Southeastern Oregon

Science Center Objects

Evaluating Spring Vulnerability to Climate Change on BLM Priority Management Areas in Southeastern Oregon

Southeastern Oregon has few sources of perennial surface water compared to the rest of the state. As a result, seeps and springs serve as important seasonal or permanent water sources for livestock, wildlife, recreational use, and to support wildland fire management on public lands administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. They are concerned that short-term drought and long-term changes in regional climate will impact these critical water supplies and add to the challenge of balancing water needs of traditional users, such as livestock, and those of the natural system, including a number of endangered, threatened, and keystone desert species, such as Lahontan cutthroat trout, Oregon spotted frog, American pronghorn, and greater sage-grouse.

Spring discharge in southeastern Oregon can vary on a range of time scales, affecting water availability. Discharge commonly increases during wetter periods and diminishes or completely ceases during dry periods. However, the fundamental hydrogeologic controls on spring occurrence, distribution, and flow variability are not well understood. Combining field investigations of hydrologic and geologic setting and laboratory geochemical analyses, this study seeks to improve that understanding.