The West Arm Demonstration Forest

The West Arm Demonstration Forest (WADF) was established in 1992 by the B.C. Ministry of Forests in the Selkirk Natural Resource District near the community of Balfour, which is on the north shore of Kootenay Lake's West Arm.

Initial research in WADF used a pair watershed approach to assess the impacts of different harvesting practices on water and sediment processes. Laird Creek was used as the control watershed, while forest development occurred in Redfish Creek.

A wildfire in Sitkum Creek in 2007 provided the opportunity to study the effects of fire.

Since 2011, research and monitoring has focused on Redfish Creek watershed. Monitoring in the Redfish Creek basin provides valuable information on elevation-related variations in climate and hydrology in this mountainous area.

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Monitoring activities

The Redfish Creek basin is a steep, heavily forested catchment typical of the West Kootenay region. The climate is considered humid continental. The lower portion of the basin falls within the Interior Cedar – Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) zone, while the upper elevations are within the Engelmann Spruce – Subalpine Fir BEC zone. Soils are relatively thin, overlaying granitic bedrock.

Climate stations

Climate stations were installed at WADF in 1992 to monitor general conditions from near the valley bottom to the alpine zone, between 830 and 2045 mASL. Five of the stations are currently operating (Seedtree, Burn, Cabin, Kokanee and Alpine, from lowest to highest elevation). All of the stations have ~6 m tall triangular towers cemented onto large boulders. They were installed in recent clearcuts and clearings have been maintained as the adjacent forests have grown. The climate stations are flexible enough to allow for the addition of instruments specific to individual research projects.

Temperature, relative humidity and incoming solar radiation sensors are mounted on the main tower, and masts are used to extend wind speed and direction sensors above the towers. Soil temperature is measured at the soil interface and at depths of 10 and 20 cm. Summer precipitation is measured using tipping buckets. Barometric pressure is measured at the lowest and highest elevation sites. The Alpine station is co-located with a provincial automated snow weather station where snow water equivalent, snow depth and total precipitation are measured (snow weather station ID 2D14P).


Streamflow is measured by the Water Survey of Canada near the top of the alluvial fan (WSC station ID 08NJ061). The station was operated intermittently between 1923 and 1930. Continuous monitoring began in 1967, with a gap between 1987 and 1993. Additional stations were operated on Redfish and Laird Creeks in the 1990’s/2000’s to monitor both streamflow and sediment.


Research at the WADF has resulted in a diverse range of publications beyond the study of water and watershed processes.

Calvert, P.P. 2003. Modelling the effects logging roads on the streamflow of a mountainous, snow dominated watershed. Unpublished thesis. University of British Columbia.

Gluns, D.R., 2001. Snowline pattern during the melt season: evaluation of the H60 concept. In Watershed Assessment in the Southern Interior of BC editors D.A.A. Toews and S. Chatwin. Proc. Workshop Penticton, March 9-10, 2000. BC Min For. Research Branch Land Management Handbook.Green, K.C. 2013. Forests, floods and channel processes: Illuminating links between forest harvesting, the flood regime and channel response in snowmelt headwater streams. Unpublished dissertation. University of British Columbia.

Green, K.C. and Y. Alila. 2012. A paradigm shift in understanding and quantifying the effects of forest harvesting on floods in snow environments. Water Resources Research. 48(10). doi:10.1029/2012WR012449

Henderson, G.S. And D.A.A. Toews, 2001. Using sediment budgets to test the watershed assessment procedure in southeastern British Columbia. In Watershed Assessment in the Southern Interior of BC editors, D.A.A. Toews and S. Chatwin. Proc. Workshop Penticton, March 9-10, 2000. BC Min For. Research Branch Land Management Handbook.

Schnorbus, M. 2003. Forest harvesting effects on peak flow: A deterministic-statistical approach. Unpublished thesis. University of British Columbia.

Schnorbus, M. and Y. Alila. 2004. Forest harvesting impacts on the peak flow regime in the Columbia Mountains of southeastern British Columbia: An investigation using long-term numerical modeling. Water Resources Research. 40(5). W05205, doi:10.1029/2003WR002918.

Schnorbus, M. and Y. Alila. 2004. Generation of an hourly meteorological time series for an alpine basin in British Columbia for use in numerical hydrologic modeling. Journal of Hydrometeorology. 5(5): 862-882. DOI:10.1175/1525-7541(2004)005<0862:GOAHMT>2.0.CO;2

Whitaker, A., Y. Alila and D.A.A. Toews. 2000. Modelling of peak flow change using the DHSVM model. Watershed Assessment in the Southern Interior of British Columbia: Workshop Proceedings. Penticton, B.C.: 9-10 March 2000. Pp. 94-111.

Whitaker, A., Y. Alila., J. Beckers and D. Toews. (2002). Evaluating peak flow sensitivity to clear‐cutting in different elevation bands of a snowmelt‐dominated mountainous catchment. Water Resources Research, 38(9), 11-1. 1172, doi:10.1029/2001WR000514 

Whitaker, A., Y. Alila, J. Beckers and D. Toews. 2003. Application of the distributed hydrology soil vegetation model to Redfish Creek, British Columbia: Model evaluation using internal catchment data. Hydrological Processes. 17(2): 199-224. DOI:10.1002/hyp.1119

Jordan, P. 1996. Turbidity and suspended sediment measurements using OSB meters, West Arm Demonstration Forest Sediment Budget Study. Automatic Water Quality Monitoring Workshop, Richmond, BC February 12-13, 1996.

Jordan, P. and P. Commandeur. 1997. Sediment Research in the West Arm Demonstration Forest. BC Min. For., Nelson, BC Unpub. Paper

Jordan, P. 2000. Sediment budgets in the Nelson Forest Region. Watershed Assessment in the Southern Interior of British Columbia: Workshop Proceedings. Penticton, B.C.: 9-10 March 2000. Pp. 174-188.

Jordan, P. 2001. Sediment budgets in the Nelson Forest Region. In Workshop Proceedings: Watershed Assessment in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Penticton, March 9-10, 2000. BC Min. For. Working Paper 57.

Jordan, P. 2006. The use of sediment budget concepts to assess the impact on watersheds of forestry operations in the southern interior of British Columbia. Geomorphology. 79(1-2): 27-44. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2005.09.019

Jordan, P. 2007. Terrain map for West Arm Demonstration Forest, Kootenay Lake Forest District.

Jordan, P. 2008. Report of Activities: Turbidity, suspended sediment and water quality monitoring, FIA Project #4745001.  Unpublished report.

Jordan, P. 2012. Sediment yields and water quality effects of severe wildfires in southern British Columbia. Proceedings of Wildfire and Water Quality: Processes, Impacts and Challenges. Banff, Alberta: 11-14 June 2012. IAHS Publication 354.

Jordan, P. and E. Fanjoy. 1999. Sediment yield and sediment budgets of community water supply watersheds in southeastern British Columbia. Proceedings of the Canadian Geophysical Union Annual Meeting. Banff, Alberta: 9-13 May 1999.


Extension Notes

  • RS-013 Bat Research in the West Arm Demonstration Forest
  • RS-027 Bats and Trees
  • RS-028 Impact of Harvesting on Habitat Use by Foraging Bats
  • RS-003 The West Arm Demonstration Forest
  • RS-018 The West Arm Demonstration Forest - Research Update
  • EN-044 West Arm Demonstration Forest, Strategic Plan: Summary
  • RS-031 Helicopter logging for bark beetle control
  • RS-011 A close look at wildlife trees
  • EN-059 Using PrognosisBC to Analyze Partial-Cutting Options over a Rotation


Other Publications

Anon. 1999. West Arm Demonstration Forest, Information Bulletin. Issue #1, March 1999.

Anon. 1992. Survey of community forest values in the vicinity of the West Arm Demonstration Forest. Unpubl. report prepared for B.C. Min. For., Nelson, by Appropriate Forestry Services and Assoc., Kaslo, BC

Anon. 2000. Strategic Plan: West Arm Demonstration Forest. Prepared by the Working Committee. BC Min. For.Kootenay Lake Forest District, Nelson, BC.

Diaz, Nancy M. and Simon Bell. 1997. Landscape Analysis and Design.  in Creating A Forestry For The 21st Century - The Science of Ecosystem Management. edited by Jerry F. Franklin and , Kathryn A. Kohm. Island Press.

Duff, J. 1994. Total Resource Design: Documentation of a method and discussion of its potential for application in British Columbia. UBC Masters Thesis.

Luchtan, D. 1997. Report on wildcrafting values in the West Arm Demonstration Forest. Unpubl. Report prepared for BC Min. For., Nelson.

Quesnel, H.J. and H.D. Pinnell. 1998. Natural disturbance patterns, forest health and stand level wildlife - Assessment and integration for forest management in the West Arm Demonstration Forest (WADF). Unpubl. paper prepared for: BC Min. For., Nelson.

Quesnel, H.J. and HD Pinnell. 2000. Application of natural disturbance processes to a landscape plan: The dry warm interior cedar-hemlock subzone (ICHdw) near Kootenay Lake, British Columbia. In D'Eon, R.G., J.F. Johnson and E.A. Ferguson, eds. Conf. proceed. Oct. 1998. Ecosystem management of forested landscapes: Directions and implementation. UBC Press, Vancouver, BC

Smith, J. and D. Delong, 1999. The West Arm Demonstration Forest - rising to the challenge. For. Chron. Vol. 75 No. 3

Barclay, R.M.R. & R.M. Brigham (Eds.). 1996. Bats and Forest Symposium. Proceedings of First International Bat-Forest Interactions Symposium. Held at Victoria, BC, 19-21 October 1995. Research Branch, BC Min. For., Work Pap. 23/1996. 292 pp.

Brigham, R.M., M.J. Vonhof, R.M.R. Barclay, & J.C. Gwilliam. 1997. Roosting behavior and roost-site preferences of forest-dwelling California bats (Myotis californicus). Journal of Mammalogy 78:1231-1239.

Craig, J. 1994. Autumn activity, diet and prey abundance for bats (Chiroptera) in the West Arm Demonstration Forest and surrounding area. Report produced for the B.C. Ministry of Forests.

Grindal, S.D. & R.M. Brigham. 1998. Effects of small scale habitat fragmentation on activity by insectivorous bats. J. Wildlife Mgt. 62:996-1003.

Grindal, SD& R.M. Brigham. 1999. Impacts of forest harvesting on habitat use by foraging insectivorous bats at different spatial scales. Ecoscience 6:25-34.

Grindal, SD 1995. Impacts of forest harvesting on bat foraging activity. M.Sc. thesis. University of Regina.

Grindal, S.D, J.L. Morissette & R.M. Brigham. 1999. Concentration of bat activity in riparian habitats over an elevational gradient. Can. J. Zool. 77: 972-979.

Vonhof, M.J. and R.M.R. Barclay. 1996. Bats and trees. Nelson Forest Region Forest Sciences Research Summary RS-027.

Vonhof, M.J. and R.M.R. Barclay. 1997. Use of tree stumps as roosts by the western long-eared bat. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 61(3): 674-684.

Crockford, S. 1995. Food habits of marten (Martes americana) in the West Arm Demonstration Forest. Report prepared by Pacific Identifications, Victoria, for Wildlife Branch, BC Min. Envir. Lands, and parks, Victoria. 16 pp. + app.

Darling, L.M. and K. Summers. 1997. Monitoring changes in wildlife diversity during silvicultural systems trials - group selection in the West Arm Demonstration Forest. Draft Final Report 1993-1996. Wildlife Branch, BC Min. Envir., Lands and Parks, Victoria.

Darling, L.M., I. Teske, S. Crockford and E.C. Lofroth. 1995. Impacts of partial cutting silvicultural systems on furbearer distribution and habitat use in the West Arm Demonstration Forest, Nelson Forest Region. Final Report. Report prep. for Forestry Canada, FRDA-II-Research in Sustainable Forest Development Program. 43 pp.

Learn more about silviculture research and related publications

Crampton, D. 1989. An ecophysiological study of plantation performance in the ICHa1. FRDA Memo No. 119.

Crampton, D. and D.P. Lavender. 1990. Morphological and physiological responses of Douglas-fir, western larch, engelmann spruce, and lodgepole pine to changes in soil moisture potential and light intensity on a burned, mesic, south-exposed site with two levels of vegetation removal. Northwest Sci. 64:98.

Harper, G., R. Whitehead and C.F. Thompson. 1998. A comparison of manual brushing treatments in the ICHdw at Redfish Creek: 10 year results from blocks 10-13. BC Min. For. Res. Prog. Extension Note 20.

Holmsen, SD and R. Whitehead. 1988. Comparison of clearing-saw cutting attachments for weeding young conifer plantations. Ca. For. Serv. FRDA Report 28. Also FERIC Special Report SR-52. (Cost and productivity information)

Thompson, C.F., P. Bauer and G.J. Harper. 1998. Ten-year results from a motor-manual brushing trial for conifer release in ICHdw. BC Min. For. File Report. (Tree stocking and growth information)

Stock, A.J., G. Pohl, W.R. McNee and Z. MacLeod. 1995. Effects of small clearcuts on ground beetle (Coleoptera:Carabidae) species occurrence in the Interior Cedar-Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone in south-east British Columbia - first year results. Unpubl. Progress report. BC Min. For., Nelson. 8 p