Watershed health technical symposium

On February 17, 2012, the Society of American Foresters (SAF) in collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute, American Forest Foundation, US Forest Service, National Alliance of Forest Owners, Plum Creek Timber Company, and Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association hosted a technical symposium in Washington, DC titled “Examining the Effects of Responsible Forest Management on Watershed Health.” The symposium featured administrative and regulatory, legal, and science panels. Panels and presentations from this symposium can be viewed at http://www.safnet.org/fp/ts_videos.cfm.

The panel on the science of forest management and watershed health highlighted presentations by NCASI staff, NCASI member company staff, and NCASI research collaborators. Dr. Matthew McBroom from Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) in Texas discussed findings from the Alto Watershed Project, which has been supported by Temple Inland Corporation, SFASU, and NCASI. The research showed an 80 to 90% reduction in first year sediment losses with contemporary forest practices compared to historic impacts using shearing and windrowing mechanical site preparation without BMPs. Dr. Stephen Schoenholtz with Virginia Tech summarized findings from his research on forest management and water quality. Dr. Rhett Jackson of the University of Georgia described findings that reported large reductions in first year sediment losses and no impact to streamwater temperature in a retrospective paired watershed study at the Grant Forest in Georgia. More detailed assessments find that most of the sediment observed today in streams is coming from the stream bank, not roads. Maryanne Reiter with Weyerhaeuser Company reported that decades-long monitoring of turbidity in the Deschutes River Basin of Washington shows improving water quality despite increasing cumulative harvest and an expanding road network in the basin. This improvement is believed to be largely a result of improved management of the roads, especially disconnecting road runoff from streams.
Liz Dent with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) reviewed numerous studies by ODF assessing forest management and water quality, including a study of forest roads in the Trask Watershed that NCASI is helping support. Finally, Dr. George Ice, recently retired from NCASI, described preliminary findings from the Alsea Watershed Study Revisited that show harvesting under the Oregon Forest Practices Act rules has little impact on temperature, sediment, and fish compared to large water quality impacts observed in a study at the same watersheds in the 1960s and 1970s (without current BMPs).


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