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Re-greening a Dryland Watershed

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Detailed Description

The installation of thousands of rock detention structures in the Turkey Pen Watershed, of the Chiricahua Mountains in SE Arizona, provided a 30-year case study to consider low-tech and low-cost Natural Infrastructure in dryland watersheds. The USGS systematic study, through observation and experiment, offers verifiable data that documents their efficacy as a Nature-based Solution, that can provide climate adaptation and mitigation benefits here in the Chiricahua Mountains and beyond.


The rainfall-runoff response of a watershed is a complex and complicated process that is governed by large number of known and unknown physiographic factors, that vary both in space and time. Results reported in these case studies are snapshots in time at this location, using limited available inputs, with large uncertainty and potential error.

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Aridland Water Harvesting Study

Papers generated from this research

Norman, L. M., 2022. Commentary: Dryland Watershed Restoration With Rock Detention Structures: A Nature-Based Solution to Mitigate Drought, Erosion, Flooding, and Atmospheric Carbon. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10.

Callegary, J.B., Norman, L.M., Eastoe, C.J., Sankey, J.B., Youberg, A., 2021. Preliminary Assessment of Carbon and Nitrogen Sequestration Potential of Wildfire-Derived Sediments Stored by Erosion Control Structures in Forest Ecosystems, Southwest USA. Air, Soil and Water Research 14, 117862212110017.

Norman, L.M., 2020. Ecosystem Services of Riparian Restoration: A Review of Rock Detention Structures in the Madrean Archipelago Ecoregion. Air, Soil and Water Research 13, 117862212094633.

Norman, L. M., Sankey, J. B., Dean, D. J., Caster, J., DeLong, S. B., DeLong, W. M., & Pelletier, J., 2017. Quantifying geomorphic change at ephemeral stream restoration sites using a coupled-model approach. Geomorphology, 283, 1–16.

Norman, L.M., Brinkerhoff, F., Gwilliam, E., Guertin, D.P., Callegary, J., Goodrich, D.C., Nagler, P.L., Gray, F., 2016. Hydrologic Response of Streams Restored with Check Dams in the Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona. River Res. Applic. 32, 519–527.

Norman, L.M., Niraula, R., 2016. Model analysis of check dam impacts on long-term sediment and water budgets in Southeast Arizona, USA. Ecohydrology and Hydrobiology 16, 125–137.

Norman, L. M., Brinkerhoff, F., Gwilliam, E., Guertin, D. P., Callegary, J., Goodrich, D. C., Nagler, P. L., & Gray, F., 2015. Hydrologic Response of Streams Restored with Check Dams in the Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona. River Research and Applications.

Norman, L. M., Lal, R., Wohl, E., Fairfax, E., Gellis, A. C., & Pollock, M. M. (2022). Natural infrastructure in dryland streams (NIDS) can establish regenerative wetland sinks that reverse desertification and strengthen climate resilience. Science of The Total Environment849, 157738.




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