Water Quality & Wetlands

Background 

Voluntary Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been demonstrated to effectively limit impact of human disturbances to water quality and aquatic resources. However, there is a continuing need to enhance the body of information about BMP effectiveness for continual improvement. Industry managers also need information on such topics as Total Maximum Daily Load allocations, harvesting in deep water swamps, management of riparian forests (e.g., streamside management zones [SMZ]), fate of nutrients and chemicals, and relationships between forest harvesting and aquatic biological diversity.

Goal

Provide technical support to facilitate continuous improvement of silvicultural non-point source pollution control measures within managed forests and implementation of cost-effective strategies for conserving biological communities associated with wetland, riparian, and aquatic ecosystems.

Examples of Recent or Ongoing Tasks 

  • Maine Riparian Water Quality Study – This project is investigating how buffer strips of different widths perform in maintaining water quality, stream habitat quality, and aquatic biodiversity in headwater streams; and the economic costs, in terms of wood volume sacrificed, as a result of buffering headwater streams.
  • North Carolina Forest Fertilization and Water Quality Study – This study is evaluating the impacts of fertilization on downstream water quality.
  • Streamside Management Zones in Virginia and West Virginia – Effects of Width and Harvest on Water Quality - This study is investigating how water quality and other attributes related to ecosystem health and function vary among different widths of streamside management zones (SMZs) and with/without harvesting within SMZs.
  • Influence of Forest Roads and Stream Crossings on Stream Water Quality in Headwater Appalachian Streams – This study is investigating the influence on water quality of different types of stream crossing, including: 1) steel or wooden skidder bridges, 2) traditional culverts, 3) poles crossings with culverts and 4) reinforced geotextile –gravel fords.
  • Streamside Management Zone Effectiveness in Georgia (Dry Creek Study) - This study is characterizing the effect of upland harvest and SMZ thinning on hydrology, water quality, the soil environment, and riparian and aquatic communities (aquatic macroinvertebrates, amphibians, breeding birds).
  • Relationships between Forest Harvesting and Ephemeral Catchment Biological Functions in the Upper Gulf Costal Plain – This study is addressing whether: (1) terrestrial/aquatic bioindicators reflect near-surface hydrology in ephemeral catchments and (2) whether forest harvesting and stand establishment in ephemeral catchments affect these bioindicators or downstream water quality.
  • Minnesota Riparian Management Study – This study is re-sampling bird communities in uplands and riparian buffer zones treated 9 years previously to determine response to partial harvest/no harvest in the riparian zone and no harvest/clearcut harvest in adjacent uplands.
  • Regeneration of Coastal Wetland Forests – This task is supporting industry response to issues related to the Section 404 exemptions for silviculture in coastal wetland forests. One potential activity is to support research examining relationships between cypress regeneration, harvest type (e.g., matt logging, ground skidding, etc.), and hydrology parameters in several recently harvested cypress forest stands across the Southeast.
  • Technical Support on Federal Wetlands and Water Quality Regulations – NCASI staff will monitor scientific and regulatory literature, participate in meetings, summarize important findings and trends in newsletter articles and task group correspondence, and provide technical support to AF&PA and other industry groups as needed.

More details about these and other tasks can be found elsewhere on the NCASI website. For more information about the NCASI Sustainable Forestry and Eastern Wildlife Program, contact Dr. Ben Wigley at bwigley@ncasi.org.