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Flow returns following early season snow

Did you know that most streams do not always have flowing water?

Streams that do not flow all the time are called intermittent streams. In wet regions, they are the smallest headwater streams, but in dry regions, even large streams can be intermittent.

News and Events

Guided hikes

Blue Lake, Larimer County

July 13th, 2024
Information and signup

September 14th - 29th

September Stream Track-a-thon

This is a great way to get involved! Now until June 16th, log observations of where you see flowing streams or dry streams. Every observation is an entry into a drawing at the end for prizes. What you help to create is a snapshot in time of flow conditions this time of year!

Tracking on the Gunnison National Forest


East River Basin

Stream Tracker teamed up with the US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and the DOE-funded Watershed Function Special Focus Area Project to track streams in the Upper Gunnison River Basin.

Historically, most stream monitoring has focused on larger streams that flow continuously, and we have surprisingly little information on intermittent streams. Small streams found on topographic or digital maps are not always present on the ground, and other streams on the ground are missing from maps.

Stream Tracker aims to fill in this information gap by combining a network of community volunteers, sensors, and satellite imagery to track when and where streams flow.

Questions guiding Stream Tracker:

  • Where are streams continuously flowing (perennial) and where do they dry (intermittent discontinuous flow)?

  • What causes streams to be intermittent?

  • How does streamflow intermittence change over time?

  • Can a better understanding of streamflow intermittence improve stream mapping and monitoring?


Why Stream Tracker matters:

  • Every major river is fed by smaller streams, some of which only flow after large rains or snowmelt. While these streams look dry and lifeless much of the time, they often support diverse aquatic life when they do flow. By improving our understanding of these streams, we can help improve streamflow forecasts to predict water supply and flood risk. Better maps of small streams can also help with land use planning, habitat assessment, and wetland delineation. Monitoring streams, large and small, provides a more holistic understanding of the watershed and you are the reason this is possible!

Project Components:

Community Network: over 900 community members nationwide, committed to observing streamflow conditions where ever they go

Sensor Network: a network of continuous streamflow sensors maintained to track how streamflow changes over time

Remote Sensing: methods to continue to be developed for detecting streamflow patterns using aircraft and satellite images

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