The Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW) was authorized by Congress in 1959. Initially conceived as an “outdoor laboratory”, the watershed has generated long-term hydrologic data, hydrologic models and research contributing to more than 300 journal articles. Long-term monitoring, which started in 1961, focused on meteorological, streamflow and sediment, and snow monitoring over a 1000 m elevation gradient. More recently, the monitoring network has expanded to include more spatially intensive mentoring at specific research sub-watersheds and within the RCEW. Most of the data collected data are available via this website.
Current field research is highly collaborative, with ARS scientists working closely on projects with the Idaho universities (Idaho State University, Boise State University and University of Idaho) and a suite of other universities both in the US and abroad (Canada, UK and Switzerland). There are also important projects with government agencies including NASA, Bureau of Reclamation, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Bureau of Land Management. The RCEW was recently funded as a Critical Zone Observatory location working in close collaboration with lead University of Idaho State and Boise State University. In addition, the RCEW is now part of the ARS-funded Long-term Agroecosystem Research network.
Current research emphases at the RCEW include: Snow hydrology/modeling, water and energy balance/eddy covariance monitoring and modeling, carbon balance, including plant productivity and soil respiration, prescribed fire impacts, remote sensing, spatial distribution of transient and stable soil properties, geophysics, stream chemistry and grazing impacts.