Logging BMPs Protect Land And Water

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

Take care to install culverts, drainage ditches and turnouts where needed, and surface low areas and soft spots with gravel.

Build your road with a grade of 8 percent or less. If you need steeper grades, keep that stretch of road short. The objective is to get water off the road as soon as possible, before it picks up any great force or volume.

Road maintenance doesn't end once the logging trucks leave. Retire your road properly by installing water bars across the width of it. Water bars can be made of earth, from poles or logs cut on site, or from treated lumber and rubber belts. Whatever their form, water bars are designed to divert water from the road by interrupting its flow downslope. A water bar, properly installed at about a 30-degree angle from the main axis of the road, is very effective.

Spacing of water bars depends on the road grade. The steeper the grade, the closer the spacing. You may also want to lay down mulch and seed in open areas. This will establish green cover over bare soil as soon as possible.

Preventing sediment from reaching streams begins at the source (road beds and log landings), but you can also keep sediment out of streams by establishing streamside management zones (SMZs). Just as the grade of the road in the harvest area is important, so is the slope of the land in an SMZ. The greater the slope, the wider the SMZ. An SMZ extends at least 25 feet from each side of a stream. Within this zone you should take special care during a timber harvest. Cutting and equipment operation should be minimal. Don't allow or construct portable sawmills, log landings or skid trails in an SMZ. unless required for a stream crossing. Road building also should be minimal. If roads are required for a stream crossing, they should be constructed at a right angle to the flow of the stream. Remove treetops or other logging debris from the stream channel. If left in the stream, they can cause the stream to change course, contributing to streambank erosion and scouring of the streambed.

Using BMPs is routine practice on state-owned land. MDC employees monitor skid trails, haul roads, log landings and SMZs for evidence of excessive erosion and runoff. Timber sale contracts for MDC land now require using BMPs. In addition, every buyer who bids on state-owned timber now receives instruction on BMPs through a course offered by the Missouri Forest Products Association (MFPA). If you would like to learn more about this course, contact the MFPA.

Compliance with BMP guidelines is voluntary for private landowners, but using BMPs is in the best interest of every landowner. After all, you paid good money for your property. Why would you want to ship your best soil downstream to your neighbors by way of runoff and erosion?

BMPs undoubtedly increase the up-front costs of harvesting timber, but not using them increases the backside costs. Along with soil loss and a resulting loss of productivity, there's also the cost of maintaining roads and trails that, if left alone, will quickly wash out, forming deep, impassable gullies. Not only does this detract from the appearance of your property, it can also reduce your property value.

If those aren't good enough reasons for using BMPs, think about the quality of our water. After all, we all live downstream from someone.

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