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Evaluating Streamside Management Zone Effectiveness in Forested Headwater Catchments of Central Appalachia
Department of Forestry
Given the variability of current streamside management zone BMPs in the region, some are likely excessive or lacking with respect to the effectiveness of controlling NPSP and/or impacting biological communities that utilize these systems. BMPs that are lacking lead to enhanced NPSP and damage to biota while those that are excessive lead to costly, unneeded BMP implementation. In either case there is a cost, one environmental/ecological and one economic. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop streamside management zone BMPs that are appropriate for the Central Appalachian Region. Through this research we will develop an understanding on how specific streamside management zone BMPs influence carbon and nutrient cycling and transport, sediment transport and aquatic biota.
2010 Project Description
A project to examine forest harvesting impacts and the role of BMPs on water quality and aquatic biota in eastern Kentucky watersheds was implemented in 2005. Eight forested watersheds in the University of Kentucky's Robinson Forest (Breathitt Co., KY) were selected for inclusion in the study. Six of these watersheds were harvested, while the remaining two are being utilized as uncut controls. Three duplicated riparian zone treatments were imposed on the harvested watersheds. Treatments examine differing forestry BMPs pertaining to riparian zone width and disturbance and stream crossings. Many of the activities occurring during the 2010 period pertain to collection of post harvest data and initial assessment of results.
Major accomplishments to date include:
1. Research activities involving characterization of stream geometry and morphological metrics, hydrologic monitoring, water chemistry monitoring, vegetation monitoring in riparian and upland zones, avian community monitoring, herpetofaunal characterization of stream and riparian areas and characterization of macroinvertebrate communities within the stream systems are on-going.
2. Influences of treatments on the forested ecosystem (water quality, hydrology, geomorphology, flora and fauna) are currently being examined.
3. Training and educational experience for twelve graduate students actively involved in the project (9 from the University of Kentucky, 2 from Western Kentucky University and 1 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and numerous undergraduate interns has occurred, and continues.
4. Fourteen presentations have been given at National forums.
5. Nine on-site tours for water quality/natural resource professionals (approximately 300 in attendance) have been performed.
6. Four forums for student, faculty and trustees of the University were conducted to educate and inform community members about this project.
7. Two on-site field tours have been conducted for the general public.
8. An educational exercise utilizing the sites has been developed and incorporated into the curriculum of the Natural Resource and Environmental Science course entitled Natural Resource and Environmental Analysis (NRE 320) as well as the Forestry course entitled Forest Hydrology and Watershed Management (FOR 460).
Given that analysis of the data is on-going, outcomes are difficult to quantify at this time. However, the results of this research will lead to multiple refereed and popular press publications.
Although publications will reach a large audience, the connection between science and policy is critical if we are to affect riparian zone BMPs in the Appalachian Region. State and regional ties through our extension and research partnerships will allow us to make the connection between science and policy.
Initially we will focus our attention on Kentucky's forestry BMP statutes. Kentucky's statutory environment governing the approval and use of forestry BMPs provides an effective platform to ensure that the results of this study will be assessed and used in evaluating riparian zone guidelines. The combined Forestry BMP Board and Agriculture Water Quality Authorities Silviculture Committee have prioritized the need for BMP work to facilitate their role in evaluating BMP criteria and recommending changes to BMP requirements.
The results of this research will be used by the Kentucky Forestry Best Management Practices Board in their role as reviewer of Kentucky's forestry BMPs and advisory body to the governors' office on forestry BMP issues and the enforcement of the Kentucky Forest Conservation Act. The Silviculture Committee of the Agriculture Water Quality Authority will also use this information to evaluate the efficacy of Kentucky's riparian zone standards that are required for use by all woodland owners in the state owning 10 acres or more and undertaking forestry operations. This body has the ability to recommend changes to the states legal requirements for riparian zones.
Also, UK's Forestry Department has strong instate continuing education programs for loggers including the Kentucky Master Logger program and it's three day primary program and associated continuing education classes, and the Kentucky LogJam newsletter sent to all Kentucky Master Loggers, ensures that there is an efficient distribution network for the information generated by this project. The Kentucky Master Logger program is currently required for all commercial timber harvests and the program had graduated over 4,000 loggers at the end of 2000. These operators generate approximately 1 billion board feet of hardwood timber per year, with harvests impacting 300,000 acres. All 4,000 KML loggers will receive 6 hours of continuing education every 3 years. This project will provide continuing education materials in the form of fact sheets and instructional information for use in these programs and the outlets.
Results of this project will also be distributed to natural resource professionals, including both instate and out of state agencies, industry foresters, land managers and federal agencies. We expect the impact of the research will have a "follow the leader" effect on other Appalachian States as the research is publicized.
Fritz, Ken, Stephanie Fulton, Brent Johnson, Chris Barton, Jeff Jack, David Word, and Roger Burke. 2010. An assessment of cellulose filters as a standardized material for measuring litter breakdown in headwater streams. Ecohydrology. Published Online: June 28, 2010. DOI:10.1002/eco.128.
Fritz, Ken, Stephanie Fulton, Brent Johnson, Chris Barton, Jeff Jack, David Word, and Roger Burke. 2010. Do post-mining constructed channels replace structural and functional characteristics of headwater streams in the Eastern Coalfield of Kentucky? Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 29(2):673-689.
Mastin, C. 2010. Preliminary evaluation of stream restoration and passive treatment technologies for the improvement of water quality on a surface mine in eastern Kentucky. MS Thesis, University of Kentucky Library. pp. 107.
Schneider, D.R. 2010. Salamander Communities Inhabiting Ephemeral Streams in a Mixed Mesophytic Forest of Southern Appalachia . MS Thesis, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Library. pp. 87.
E. L. Witt, C. D. Barton, J. W. Stringer and R. K. Kolka. Impact of Streamside Management Zone Width and Canopy Retention on Hydrologic Response Following Forest Harvest in Appalachian Headwater Streams. 2010 AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference; Philadelphia, PA, November 1-4, 2010
Witt, E., C.D. Barton, J. Stringer, D. Bowker and R. Kolka. Evaluating best management practices for ephemeral channel protection following forest harvest in the Cumberland Plateau: Preliminary findings. 17th Central Hardwood Forest Conference. Lexington, KY. April 5-7, 2010.
D. Bowker, J. Stringer, C.D. Barton, and S. Fei. GIS and GPS analysis of mobile harvesting equipment and sediment delivery to streams during forest harvest operations on steep terrain. 17th Central Hardwood Forest Conference. Lexington, KY. April 5-7, 2010.
Mastin, C., C. Agouridis, C.D. Barton and R. Warner. Recreating a Headwater Stream on a Head of Hollow Fill. Mid-Atlantic Stream Restoration Conference. Morgantown, WV. November 3-5, 2009.