Watersheds & Wetlands

Soil Erosion and Sediment Delivery

Water quality considerations, including sediment delivery, are critical to understand in the context of forest management throughout the U.S.  Sediment is the number one pollutant of rivers and streams in the U.S. and states recommend or require, the use of best management practices (BMPs) or other protective measures to reduce soil erosion and the potential delivery of sediment to waterbodies.

Recent evaluations of Best Management Practice (BMP) programs across the Southeastern U.S. have identified several knowledge gaps and perceived weaknesses. Therefore, NCASI collaborates with Virginia Tech University on a comprehensive regional study assessing the effectiveness of BMPs in reducing soil erosion and sediment delivery to water bodies.

Specific objectives are to develop soil erosion/sediment delivery ratios for forest operations, develop a sediment delivery prediction tool, and comparatively aggregate state-specific BMPs and BMP monitoring approaches.

On the Pacific coast, the effects of forest management activities on erosion and sediment yields have long been controversial, and these concerns have been a major impetus to the promulgation and progressive strengthening of forest practice regulations. This includes potential effects of forest management on water quality, downstream aggradation and flooding, and habitat for endangered salmonids.

NCASI is working with cooperators to rigorously quantify hanging effects of recent forest management activities on sediment production and put these in context with measured and natural sediment yields.