Effect of forest harvesting best management practices on coarse woody debris distribution in stream and riparian zones in three Appalachian watersheds
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Water, Air, and Soil Pollution: Focus 4:245-261
The distribution of coarse woody debris (CWD) was analyzed in three Appalachian watersheds in eastern Kentucky, eighteen years after harvest. The three watersheds included an unharvested control (Control), a second watershed with best management practices (BMPs) applied that included a 15.2 m unharvested zone near the stream (BMP watershed), and a third watershed that was harvested without strict BMPs with harvesting occurring up to the stream edge and slash left within the stream and riparian zones (No BMP watershed). We assessed the CWD occurring both within the riparian zone and stream in the three watersheds. Within both stream and riparian zones, the BMP and No BMP watersheds contained more CWD biomass than in the Control, however, the No BMP watershed CWD was in a more advanced state of decay than in either the BMP or Control watersheds. Nitrogen content in CWD was also greater in the No BMP watershed because of the more advanced state of the decay. The CWD present in the Control is the result of natural forest processes such as death and self-pruning. The CWD in the No BMP watershed is a result of the slash left behind after the harvest since little opportunity exists for new recruitment of CWD from the surrounding area. From our decay class data, it is apparent that at least some of the CWD in the BMP watershed has occurred since harvest, and, based on our biomass data, at a much greater rate of recruitment than in the Control watershed. We hypothesize that the harvest outside of the riparian zone in the BMP watershed may have led to greater windthrow and/or slumping than in the Control watershed. As such, our data suggest that riparian zones of 15.2 m may not be effective in maintaining the short-term integrity of the CWD pool within steep gradient Appalachian systems.
Keywordsbest management practices, carbon, coarse woody debris, nitrogen, riparian, stream, watershed
McClure, J. M.; Kolka, R. K.; White, A. 2004. Effect of forest harvesting best management practices on coarse woody debris distribution in stream and riparian zones in three Appalachian watersheds. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution: Focus 4:245-261