The University of Arizona

Using Science to Bridge Management and Policy: Terracette Hydrologic Function and Water Quality Best Management Practices in Idaho

Mark V. Corrao, Barbara E. Cosens, Robert Heinse, Jan U.H. Eitel, Timothy E. Link


On The Ground
• Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a leading cause of
water quality degradation on 40% of the semiarid
lands within the western United States, with sediment
from runoff on agricultural lands making up 15%.
• Managing NPS pollution through best management
practices (BMPs) relies on site-specific knowledge
and voluntary application.
• The dominant hydrologic processes in semiarid
environments are a product of local climate, vegetation,
and soil conditions; therefore, land use and ecosystem
resilience invariably hinge on a balance of shifting, and
often competing, social and environmental drivers.
• Our measurements of terracette hydrologic function
and existence on more than 159,000 hectares within
Idaho enabled an estimate of potential NPS erosion
and sediment generation, emphasizing the value of
site-specific scientific research for land managers.
• Our study provides an example of how microtopographic
landforms, such as terracettes, are connected
with state and federal clean water policy as one
example of how interdisciplinary research can have
far-reaching application.

Keywords: rangelands, terracettes, erosion, water,
policy, best management practices.

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