About Reynolds Creek

Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed (RCEW) was established in 1960 by the USDA Agricultural Research Service as an experimental watershed to support research that addresses issues of water supply, seasonal snow, soil freezing, water quality and rangeland hydrology in semi-arid rangelands of the interior Pacific Northwest.

Located in Southwestern Idaho, the RCEW extends over a steep climatic gradient. The environmental variability is driven by the nearly 1000 m elevation range and variable geology. Vegetation types include Wyoming sagebrush steppe in the lower elevations, transitioning to mountain sagebrush, western juniper, aspen and coniferous forest at higher elevations.

The RCEW is highly instrumented with long-term, published databases. The current instrumentation network at RCEW includes eleven weirs, thirty-two primary and five secondary meteorological measurement stations, twenty-four precipitation stations, eight snow course and five snow study sites, thirty-seven soil temperature and moisture measurement sites with five sub-surface hill-slope hydrology sites, five Eddy Covariance systems, and five automated water chemistry sites.

Contributions of scientists and consistent support staff have led to one of the most spatially and temporally extensive climate and stream flow records in this region. Owing to its unique characteristics and temporally and spatially extensive climatic and hydrologic datasets, the RCEW was selected by the National Science Foundation in 2013 as a Critical Zone Observatory with the overarching objective of improving prediction of soil carbon storage and fluxes.