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Harvesting Best Management Practices Evaluation


Best Management Practices are required in Maryland to provide sediment and erosion control during forestry operations. The Forest Watershed Management Program provides technical assistance in helping evaluate BMPs. Past studies have included a Forestry BMP Implementation study in 1995 and a Forestry BMP Effectiveness study in 2000. Current use of harvesting BMP’s was evaluated from 2003 to 2005 on sites with water features, which are most vulnerable to sediment pollution, using the regional assessment protocol for the Northeastern Area of the US. The effectiveness of the practices as applied on-site were also evaluated with measures of sediment reaching water bodies or being trapped in streamside management zones. Average compliance was 85%, and those practices were effective in avoiding sediment delivery 77% of the time, (Koehn & Strang, 2009). This implementation rate was similar to the 82% compliance found in a 1995 study."

Graph showing rate of BMP Implementation

The Forestry BMP Implementation Study in 1995 was funded by an EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant, and evaluated conditions found on 99 harvest sites from 1993 to 1994. Harvest sites were between 10 and 350 acres and had water bodies present. Interdiscplinary teams were used to evaluate the sites in five categories: haul roads/skid trails, stream crossings, stream management zones, landings/log decks, and soil stabilization. Implementation rates averaged 82%, with the highest compliance occurring with BMPs for landings and log decks (figure). Regionally, the Lower Coastal Plain, a gently sloped area on the Eastern Shore, had the highest rates of compliance, with 89% implementation. The Upper Coastal Plain, an area in Southern Maryland with greater slopes, had a lower implementation rating of 75%. The Piedmont area, with rolling hills extending from Cecil County to Frederick County, averaged 86% implementation, while the Mountains area, the region west of Frederick with the steepest slopes, had a 78% implementation rate.

The Forestry BMP Effectiveness Study was completed in April 2000, also funded by an EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant. The study used a paired watershed design with a calibration period to evaluate effects of forest harvesting with standard forestry BMPs on stream benthos, temperature, and suspended sediment. The study, located in the Maryland Piedmont at the privately owned Stronghold property, concluded that no significant changes in stream benthic macroinvertebrates, stream temperature, or suspended sediment were found with properly installed BMPs.

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