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Hydrologic Impacts of Logging an Appalachian Watershed Using West Virginia's Best Management Practices

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A 39 ha gauged watershed located in north-central West Virginia near Parsons was cut to a 35.5 cm stump diameter and logged using wheeled skidders to evaluate the effectiveness of West Virginia's Best Management Practices (BMPs). Roads initially occupied 10.6% of the watershed, but this percentage is decreasing as much of the original road prism reverts to forest. Reducing basal area by 44% in stems 2.54 cm dbh and larger had a negligible effect on maximum growing season stream temperatures, apparently because the stream remained shaded by residual trees and understory shrubs growing along it. Both growing season peakflows and total stormflow had small but significant increases due to treatment. Dormant season stormflows did not increase significantly. Although mean monthly exports of suspended sediment doubled the first year when the area was being logged, they remained within the range reported for carefully managed areas in the East. Sediment exports returned to pretreatment levels by the third posttreatment year. Long-term projections of current exports rates indicate that sediment exports from harvesting operations (3 entries) during a 100 yr rotation will account for less than 5% of the total sediment exported from the study watershed. Nitrate exports increased significantly during most of the monitored posttreatment years, but fertilizer applied to the roads during grass seeding is believed to have contributed to these increases. Actual concentration values remained low, with maximum concentrations well below standards for potable water. Calcium concentrations also increased during most years, but road liming during seeding probably was responsible for most of this increase. The BMPs used in this study were effective in minimizing adverse impacts to soil and water resources. North. J. Appl. For. 14(4):207-218.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, Timber & Watershed Lab, P.O. Box 404, Parsons, WV 26287

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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