Water, Air and Soil Pollution: Focus

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 5–36 | Cite as

Forestry best management practices for timber harvesting and site preparation in the eastern United States: An overview of water quality and productivity research during the past 20 years (1982–2002)

  • W. Michael Aust
  • Charles R. Blinn


Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) were developed to protect water quality. In the eastern US, those BMPs were often expanded to include maintenance of site productivity. Generally, BMPs recommend the use of pre-harvest planning and careful design for construction of roads and other activities that expose bare soil, minimizing trafficking and areas of bare soil, maintaining streamside management zones, ensuring rapid revegetation following harvesting, minimizing soil disturbance, and ameliorating severe trafficking with site preparation. This review of peer-reviewed research from the past 20 years examined the effects of forest harvesting and site preparation on water quality and site productivity in the eastern US. The review was subdivided into areas having relatively similar physiography and land management (New England, Lake States, Appalachian Plateau, Ridge and Valley, Blue Ridge, Piedmont, Atlantic Coastal Plain, Gulf Coastal Plain, and Ouachitas-Ozarks). In general, data from steeper physiographic regions indicated that forest harvesting and site preparation can increase erosion, sediment and nutrient losses to streams. However, the quantities introduced into streams tended to be relatively low, generally below the values that are considered acceptable for alternative land uses. Also most research indicated that water quality recovers within two to five years following forest operation disturbances, particularly if BMPs are employed. Research from the less mountainous and often more poorly drained Lake States and Coastal Plain regions indicated that soil compaction and rutting may or may not cause site productivity effects, depending on soil types, natural ameliorative properties and site preparation. Overall, the research supports the forestry BMPs recommended in the eastern states.

best management practices erosion hydrology sediment site preparation site productivity timber harvesting water quality watersheds 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ForestryVirginia TechBlacksburgU.S.A
  2. 2.Department of Forest ResourcesUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulU.S.A

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