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NC Forest Service: Wet-Weather Logging Advisory, Take Extra Soil Conservation Measures, Protect Streams

NC Forest LogoJuly 18, 2013. The recent over-abundance of rainfall in North Carolina has helped to minimize wildfire risks, but it also has made logging much more difficult.

The N.C. Forest Service is reminding loggers, timber buyers and forest owners to take extra precautions to prevent sediment or soil from washing into creeks, to prevent excessive rutting or compacting of saturated soil, and to keep ground disturbance to a minimum when logging.

“The Forest Service has been busy inspecting logging sites around the state, and foresters and rangers have seen more problems lately, especially in areas with steeply sloped lands and soils that are prone to erosion,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

Problems are mainly related to:

  • Inadequate control of rainfall runoff from skid trails and logging roads;
  • Poorly established or improperly maintained stream crossings and skid trails;
  • Ineffective soil stabilization and site rehabilitation.

In the logging industry, the measures and actions used to conserve soil and protect water quality are known as Best Management Practices. “The fundamental science behind forestry BMPs has been researched, field-tested and refined by forest scientists and industry experts for more than 75 years, and research is continuing,” Troxler said.

The Forest Service has a comprehensive user’s guide to assist loggers and other forestry professionals with identifying and installing BMPs. The North Carolina Forestry BMP Manual and its corresponding Field Guide are available from Forest Service offices and online at http:\\ncforestservice.gov.

During prolonged or extreme wet weather like North Carolina has been experiencing, loggers are encouraged to use all applicable forestry BMPs. The Forest Service offers the following tips:

Do not install new equipment crossings over a stream or creek. Access timber from the other side if possible.

Retain wider, undisturbed buffer zones of trees and vegetation alongside streams.

Apply leftover tree tops, limbs, branches and woody debris to skid trails to cover bare soil throughout the duration of the logging work. This can prevent soil damage and reduce the risk of sediment washing down the slope and into a stream.

Immediately apply groundcover stabilization on sloping sections of skid trails, on top of roads and next to stream crossings when finished. Prepare for heavy, prolonged rains.

County rangers with the Forest Service can provide free BMP advice and pre-harvest planning assistance to support logging work. Interested individuals also should review the extensive library of BMP recommendations available on the agency’s website, including the latest BMP newsletter highlighting skid trail problems.