- Acidic deposition leads to the acidification of waters and accelerated leaching and depletion of soil base cations. The Bear Brook Watershed in Maine has used whole-watershed chemical manipulations to study the effects of elevated N and S on forest ecosystem function on a decadal time scale. The objectives of this study were to define the chemical and physical characteristics of soils in both the reference and treated watersheds after 17 years of treatment and assess evidence of change in soil chemistry by comparing soil studies in 1998 and 2006. Results from 1998 confirmed depletion of soil base cation pools and decreased pH due to elevated N and S within the treated watershed. However, between 1998 and 2006, during a period of declining SO4(2-) deposition and continued whole-watershed experimental acidification on the treated watershed, there was little evidence of continued soil exchangeable base cation concentration depletion or recovery. The addition of a pulse of litterfall and accelerating mineralization from a severe ice storm in 1998 may have had significant effects on forest floor nutrient pools and cycling between 1998 and 2006. Our findings suggest that mineralization of additional litter inputs from the ice storm may have obscured temporal trends in soil chemistry. The physical data presented also demonstrate the importance of coarse fragments in the architecture of these soils. This study underscores the importance of long-term, quantitative soil monitoring in determining the trajectories of change in forest soils and ecosystem processes over time.