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The Effectiveness of Forestry Best Management Practices for Sediment Control in the Southeastern United States: A Literature Review

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Water quality from forested watersheds (both managed and unmanaged) is normally very good and better than most other human-dominated land uses. Water degradation is possible during forestry operations; however, the use of best management practices (BMP) has been shown to substantially reduce the risk. In the southeastern United States, forests are managed under a wide range of conditions reflective of physiographic region, soil erodibility, climate, and site wetness. Although it is clear that BMP reduce sediment and pollutant loading into streams, there is less information regarding how effective these practices are (i.e., how much sediment did BMP retain? What was the mechanism for sediment retention?). A review of the scientific literature was conducted to evaluate forestry BMP effectiveness to control sediment in the southeastern United States. Our review indicated that only a handful of studies have specifically quantified BMP effectiveness to reduce sediment. In the Coastal Plain, research has focused on forest roads and site wetness, whereas in the Piedmont and regions with steeper terrain, the focus has been on streamside management zones. These studies provide an initial indication of how much sediment is reduced by BMP; however, more information is needed for managers to make reasonable estimations. Future research should focus on quantifying BMP effects on sediment yield and identifying the specific mechanisms involved.

Keywords: best management practices; soil erosion; stream management; streamside management zones; total suspended solids

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • 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 Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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