Forest harvest activities are potential sources of non-point source (NPS) pollutants. Poorly designed haul roads, skid trails, landings (loading areas) and stream crossings can lead to significant inputs of sediment to stream channels (Patric1976) leading to degradation of water quality and impacts on living resources. The removal of trees adjacent to streams can also cause elevated stream temperatures, reducing habitat quality for fish and benthic macro-invertebrate populations (Lee 1980). Section 208 of the Clean Water Act of 1977 mandated that each state develop a plan for control of NPS pollution resulting from silvicultural activities. Section 208 silvicultural plans took the form of forest practice guidelines known as Best Management Practices or BMPs, and could be either voluntary or regulatory. Maryland has had a regulatory program in effect since 1985 that mandates the use of Best Management Practices for forest harvest operations.
Marylandís BMPs were developed from information provided in studies on timber harvest erosion and sediment control (Trimble and Sartz 1957, Kochenderfer 1970). A study of implementation of Marylandís BMPs done by Maryland DNR - Forest Service (Koehn and Grizzel 1995) indicated that most loggers followed these BMPs. This project takes the next logical step, an attempt to determine whether Marylandís Best Management Practices, when used as specified, are effective in protecting water quality, i.e., that sediment, temperature and biological activity are only minimally impacted by forest harvest activities, and that the in-stream parameters measured in this study return to pre-harvest conditions relatively quickly. While there have been studies in other states which address the concern of adequacy of timber harvest BMPs (Adams et al.1995; Whipkey 1991) this is the first significant study done in Maryland, using Maryland BMPs in local conditions, with local logging contractors, and using relatively comprehensive and sophisticated monitoring and analysis techniques. This report documents the activities conducted during this four year experiment, discusses the findings, and draws conclusions based on these findings.
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This study was funded through a Clean Water Act Section 319(h) Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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Forest Service and Chesapeake & Coastal Watershed Service
Annapolis, Maryland / April 2000 / FWHS-FS-00-01
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