Wally Miller

Emeritus Professor

Contact Information


  • B.S. 1968, California Polytechnic State University
  • Ph.D. 1973, University of California, Riverside


The environmental significance of the Tahoe Basin is clearly demonstrated by historic efforts to protect lake and tributary quality through management of naturally diverse watershed ecosystems. The balance between runoff, infiltration, recharge and nutrient transport can be easily shifted through human activities such as forestry, grazing, resource management and watershed development. Subsequent impacts of each activity on source and amount of water and nutrient discharge must be clearly understood if we are to truly reduce nutrient loading, rather than simply re-route the nutrients to an alternate discharge pathway.

Our studies have clearly shown infiltration, runoff, erosion, groundwater recharge, and nutrient transport to be heterogeneous and difficult to predict due to such factors as soil water repellency, preferential flow, soil type, plot condition and vegetative cover. We have also examined colloid nutrient transport as a mechanism for the cycling of particle- reactive chemicals that may influence lake and tributary ecology in the Sierra Nevada. Such forms may well represent a previously unrecognized significant source of mobile nutrients in the Sierra Nevada. Recent research considers the effects of wildfire and various biomass management strategies in the Lake Tahoe Basin and eastern Sierras on ecosystem response and discharge water quality. Of specific interest are the effects of fire suppression, controlled burning, and mechanical harvest on changes in soil compaction, water repellency, preferential flow, overland/litter interflow, plot condition, and vegetative cover.


  • Assoc. Ed. Journal Applied Agricultural Research (1986-1990)
  • Charle M. Seurferle Outstanding Teacher Award (1978)
  • International Travel Award, Japan, Australia (1988)
  • Certified Professional Soil Scientist/Soils Specialist (1973-present)
  • Water Quality Panelist, US Presidential Forum on Lake Tahoe (1997)
  • Lake Tahoe Science Advisory Group (1996-2003)
  • Committee of Scientists, Tahoe Science Consortium (2007-present)
  • Best Research Paper on Fire Effects, ASA Division 7 - Forest, Range, and Wildland Soils (2007)
  • Legislative Oversight Committee for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Marlette Water System (2008)
  • Lake Tahoe Science Panel - Tahoe Federal Event, US Senator Feinstein


  • Gergans, N. M., Miller, W. W., Johnson, D. W., Blank, R. R., Sedinger, J. S., Walker, R. F. 2011, Runoff water quality from a Sierran upland forest, transition ecotone, and stream environment zone, Soil Science Society of America Journal, 75, 1946-1957 Read More...
  • Miller, W. W., Johnson, D. W., Karam, S. L., Walker, R. F., Weisberg, P. J. 2010, A synthesis of Sierran forest biomass management studies and potential effects on water quality., Forests, 1, 131-153
  • Loupe, T.M., W.W. Miller, D.W. Johnson, J.S. Sedinger, E.M. Carroll, R.F. Walker, J.D. Murphy, and C.M. Stein 2009, Effects of mechanical harvest + chipping and prescribed fire on Sierran runoff water quality., J. Environmental Quality (In Press March-April Issue 2009)
  • Saito, L.S., W.W. Miller, D.W. Johnson, R.G. Qualls, L. Provencher, E.M. Carroll, and P. Szameitat 2007, Fire effects on stable isotopes in a Sierran forest watershed., J. Environmental Quality 36:91-100
  • Loupe, T.M., W.W. Miller, D.W. Johnson, E.M. Carroll, D.W. Glass, and R.F. Walker 2007, Inorganic N and P in Sierran forest O-horizon leachate., J. Environmental Quality 36:498-507
  • Carroll, E.M., W.W. Miller, D.W. Johnson, L.S. Saito, R.G. Qualls, and R.F. Walker 2007, Spatial analysis of a high magnitude erosion event following a Sierran wildfire., J. Environmental Quality 36:1105-1111
  • Miller, W.W., D.W. Johnson, T.M. Loupe, J.S. Sedinger, E.M. Carroll, J.D. Murphy, R.F. Walker, and D.W. Glass 2006, Nutrients flow from runoff at burned forest site in Lake Tahoe Basin., California Agriculture (Dedicated Issue on Lake Tahoe Concerns) 60:65-71
  • Miller, W.W., D.W. Johnson, C. Denton, P.S.J. Verburg, G.L. Dana, and R.F. Walker 2005, Inconspicuous nutrient laden surface runoff from mature forest Sierran watersheds., J. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 163:3-17
  • Johnson, D.W., J.D. Murphy, R.B. Susfalk, T.G. Caldwell, W.W. Miller, R.F. Walker, and R.F. Powers 2005, The effects of wildfire, salvage logging, and post-fire N fixation on the nutrient budgets of a Sierran forest., Forest Ecology & Management 220:155-165
    Johnson, D.W., R.B. Susfalk, T.G. Caldwell, J.R. Murphy, W.W. Miller, and R.F. Walker 2004, Fire effects on carbon and nitrogen budgets in forests., J. Water, Air & Soil Pollution 4:263-275
  • Caldwell, T.G., D.W. Johnson, W.W. Miller, and R.G. Qualls 2002, Forest floor carbon and nitrogen losses due to prescription fire., Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. J. 66:262-267
    Johnson, D.W., R.B. Susfalk, R. Dahlgren, T. Caldwell, and W.W. Miller 2001, Nutrient fluxes in a snow-dominated, semi-arid forest: Spatial and temporal patterns., Biogeochemistry 55:219-245
  • Marcus, J.A., W.W. Miller, and R.R. Blank 1998, Inorganic and suspended/dissolved-organic nitrogen in Sierra Nevada soil core leachates., J. Environmental Quality 27:755-760
  • Burcar, S.W., W.W. Miller, S.W. Tyler and R.R. Blank 1997, Moist and dry-season nitrogen transport in Sierra Nevada soils under forested and meadow conditions., Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. J. 61:1774-1780
  • Rhea, S.A., W.W. Miller, R.R. Blank, and D.E. Palmquist 1996, Presence and behavior of colloidal N and P in Sierra Nevada soils under forested and meadow conditions., J. Environmental Quality 25:1449-1451
  • Burcar, S.W., W.W. Miller, S.W. Tyler, and D.W. Johnson 1994, Seasonal preferential flow in two Sierra Nevada soils under forested and meadow cover., Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. J. 58:1555-1561

  • Book or Chapter(s) in Books
    Miller, W. W., Carroll-Moore, E. M., Tretten, H., Johnson, D. W. 2010, Chapter 5: Soil Conservation, In Z.P. Hymanson and M.C. Collopy (Ed.), An Integrated Science Plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin: Conceptual Framework and Research Strategies (PSW-GTR-226 ed., pp. 183-236)
  • Johnson, D.W., M.A. Fenn, W.W. Miller, and C. Hunsaker 2009, Fire Effects on Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling in Forests of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, In: A. Bytnerowicz, M. Arbaugh, C. Anderson, and A. Riebau (eds), Wildland Fires and Air Pollution, Developments in Environmental Science, Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-08-055609-3
  • Bulletin/Reports
  • Miller, W.W., E.M. Carroll-Moore, H. Tretten, and D.W. Johnson 2009, Soil Conservation Research Strategy, Ch. 5, In: Z. Hymanson and M.W. Collopy (eds), Integrated Science Plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin: Conceptual Framework and Research Strategies, PSW-GTR (Accepted)
  • Reuter, J.E. and W.W. Miller 2000, Aquatic Resources, Water Quality and Limnology of Lake Tahoe and its Upland Watershed, Chapter 4, p. 215-402, In: D.D. Murphy and C.M. Knopp (eds), The Lake Tahoe Watershed Assessment, PSW-GTR-175/176
    Technical Publication
  • W.W. Miller, E.M. Carroll-Moore, E. Leger, J. Davison, S.W. Tyler, M. Hausner, P.S.J. Verburg, Z. Johnson, R.G. Qualls, G. Wilson and K.L. Dean 2010, Effects Of Alternative Agriculture In Western Nevada On Plant, Soil, And Water Interactions, Effects Of Alternative Agriculture In Western Nevada On Plant, Soil, And Water Interactions Read More...