Forest ThreatNet

Volume 11, Issue 2 - March/April 2017

Research Bridges Forest Stream Crossing Structures and Benefits to Water Quality

Wood bridgemat at a stream crossingIn many situations, the adage “Dirt doesn’t hurt” is generally true. One important exception is when soil erosion and runoff deliver excessive sediment to streams, impacting water quality as well as aquatic insects, fishes, or other stream inhabitants. Forest managers use Best Management Practices (BMPs), such as the installation of strategically placed bridgemats and culverts, to safeguard stream health during forestry operations. In North Carolina, previous studies have determined the effectiveness of these structures in protecting forest streams of the mountains and coastal plain, but data from the region in between—the Piedmont—have been lacking. Eastern Threat Center biological scientist Johnny Boggs recently led a study to address this data gap. With Center researchers Ge Sun and Steve McNulty, he measured Total Suspended Sediment (TSS)—that is, sediment floating in the water column and not settled on the bottom of the streambed—at stream crossing sites in six Piedmont forests before, during, and after harvesting operations. Results, recently published in the Journal of Forestry, indicate the TSS concentrations were similar upstream and downstream of the crossing sites, providing assurance that BMPs applied at stream crossings are part of sustainable operations that can provide forest products while simultaneously protecting forest ecosystems. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: A wood bridgemat is installed at a skid trail crossing in Duke Forest, Durham, NC. Photo by Johnny Boggs, U.S. Forest Service.

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