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Individual Highlight

Water samples provide further guidance on how best to protect water quality at stream crossings in Piedmont forests

Photo of Researchers measured sediment in water samples upstream and downstream of stream crossing sites, such as this steel bridgemat at a skid trail crossing, before, during, and after harvesting operations. Researchers measured sediment in water samples upstream and downstream of stream crossing sites, such as this steel bridgemat at a skid trail crossing, before, during, and after harvesting operations. Snapshot : Sedimentation inputs to streams are some of the biggest current and future challenges for land and water managers. Preventing stream sediment generated from silvicultural activities requires an understanding of local inputs. A recent Forest Service study provides sediment data that resource managers can incorporate into their decision support system to help estimate sediment concentrations and exports from stream crossings, haul roads, and skid trails in Piedmont forests. They can also use the data to further refine statewide Best Management Practice guidelines.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Boggs, Johnny 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1319

Summary

Previous studies have examined the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) in protecting forest streams across North Carolina's mountains and coastal plain, but data from the region in between, the Piedmont, have been lacking. In partnership with the North Carolina Forest Service, scientists from the Forest Sevice’s Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center led a study to quantify sediment loads at Piedmont forest harvesting operations with a variety of soil types, watershed sizes, and road and trail slopes approaching stream crossings. The scientists measured sediment in 808 water samples upstream and downstream of stream crossing sites before, during, and after harvesting operations. They found sediment concentration ranged from 56 milligrams per liter to 127 milligrams per liter across sites. Although these concentrations are low and will not harm aquatic species, the results help to define the range of stream sediment variability at road and skid trail crossings and are needed to adequately address water quality and sediment export concerns and to help further refine statewide BMP guidelines. Results also assure forest managers that BMPs applied at stream crossings are part of sustainable operations that can provide forest products for people now and in the future while simultaneously protecting forest ecosystems.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Carolina Forest Service
  • Duke University
  • General Electric
  • Montgomery County, North Carolina
  • North Carolina State University
  • Orange Water and Sewer Authority