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Criterion 4: Conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources

picture of lake looking through forest trees Forests are extremely important in the Chesapeake Bay region for the protection of water quality. Forests are by far the most protective land use adjacent to streams, around our reservoirs and throughout our watersheds. Water resources, such as streams, ponds, and lakes are also good indicators of forest health because the water that runs off forest lands drains into them. Physical, chemical, and biological properties of the receiving waters can easily be measured and need to be evaluated against a healthy baseline range. Monitoring these resources can provide evidence of change in the forest ecosystem and makes it possible to implement adaptive management strategies.

Soils provide the necessary nutrients, minerals, and water to the forest community. In turn, forests protect soils, allow for slow water uptake, and contribute organic material to the soil. While a well-managed and implemented timber harvest exposes bare soil on about 10% of a harvest site, compaction and runoff caused by improperly conducted timber harvesting or other human activities affect both the quantity and quality of soil resources. It is important to use best management practices in harvesting timber and during the land development process in order to minimize these negative effects.

Restoring forests can provide significant benefits to unbuffered streams, particularly headwater streams, to highly erodible lands, and to prior-converted wetlands. Maryland has focused on restoring these sensitive lands and over the last six years has been successful in planting forest riparian buffers on over 1,000 miles of streams through our Stream ReLeaf and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

Indicator 1: Percent of Watershed Forested
Indicator 2: Forested Wetlands
Indicator 3: Flood Plain Forests (not available)
Indicator 4: Highly Erodible Soils (not available)
Indicator 5: Hydric Soils (not available)
Indicator 6: Unforested Riparian Zone
Indicator 7: Ecological Ranking of Forest Lands

Criterion 3     Criterion 5