USLE and WEPP Soil Erosion Models: Their Applicability and Use in Generating Cover Values to Stabilize Soil in the Los Alamos, New Mexico Area

Date of Award


Document Type

Capstone Project


Environmental Policy And Management

Degree Name

Master of Environmental Policy And Management


Environmental Policy And Management


William Robinson


cover factor; Disturbed WEPP; erosion; Los Alamos (N.M.) -- Environmental conditions; soil; Soil conservation -- New Mexico -- Los Alamos; Soil erosion prediction -- Mathematical models; Universal soil loss equation; USLE; WEPP


Soil erosion is a naturally occurring process that involves the detachment, transport, and deposition of soil particles. Disturbances such as thinning and wildfire can reduce cover greatly and increase erosion rates. Forest managers may use erosion prediction tools, such as the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) to estimate erosion rates and develop techniques to manage erosion. However, it is important to understand the differences and the applications of each model. Erosion rates were generated by each model and the model most applicable to the study site, Los Alamos, New Mexico was determined. It was also used to find the amount of cover needed to stabilize soil. The USLE is a simpler model and less complicated than a computer model like WEPP, and thus easier to manipulate to estimate cover values. Predicted cover values were compared to field cover values. Cover is necessary to establish effective erosion control guidelines.

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