Study of stream crossing best management practices initiated

Although forest road stream crossings have the potential to introduce sediment into streams, forestry best management practices (BMPs) have proven effective for reducing sediment delivery. Nevertheless, because of the importance of stream crossings to forest operations and the potential for sediment delivery, research investigating incremental enhancements to stream crossing BMPs is of interest to the forestry community.

With support from NCASI, scientists at Virginia Tech recently initiated a 3-1/2-year study of potential sediment control and costs of enhanced best management practices at operational forest stream crossings. Investigators include W. Michael Aust, M. Chad Bolding, Scott M. Barrett, and Kevin McGuire of Virginia Tech. Erik B. Schilling is coordinating NCASI involvement in the project.

In 2014-2015, the investigators conducted a pilot phase of this project using a combination of Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) BMP audit forms, erosion models, cost models, and field evaluations to determine the effects of three levels of BMPs (“BMP-“, “BMP-Std”, “BMP+”) on sediment delivered from stream crossings and the costs associated with these BMP levels. The pilot phase was performed only in the Piedmont region of Virginia and only for spring quarter harvests.

Based upon the success of the pilot study, the investigators now are expanding the scope of the project to include the three major regions of Virginia, which represent major wood producing areas of the eastern US (Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Mountains). Thus, results from the study will have broad applications for stream crossings BMPs.

Major data collection activities for each stream crossing will include 1) BMP categorization, 2) percent compliance with VDOF BMP audit questions, 3) estimates of potential soil erosion, and 4) BMP enhancement and cost estimation based on a road cost model. Results from the study will be used to develop on-line and face-to-face logger education workshops.


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