Does tree removal influence soil water storage and stream flows?

Soil water storage: During the spring, Utah junipers (Juniperus osteosperma) and western junipers (J. occidentalis) rapidly used soil water in the upper soil zone (<0.9 m [3 ft] deep) where soil nutrient concentrations are highest and most important for the majority of herbaceous species. In areas where trees have been removed, the growing season of post treatment herbaceous vegetation was increased by 3 to 6 weeks (Bates et al. 2000; Roundy et al. 2014b). 

Stream flows: However, studies evaluating the effects of mechanical tree-removal treatments on groundwater storage and stream flows have produced mixed results. The response will be closely linked to characteristics of the watershed including climate, geology, topography, soils, and surface vegetation.

Bluebunch wheatgrass significantly increased following thinning of this Phase III woodland resulting in an increase in soil water in the upper soil profile (surface 45 cm).  However, the impact on deep soil water storage on spring and stream flows will depend on the characteristics mentioned above (Egan Range Nevada 9 -years after shredding; photo by Rick Miller).