Relationships Between Streamside Management Zone Width and Biotic Communities of Headwater Streams in West Virginia
Corrao, Jason James
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ABSTRACT The importance of streamside management zones (SMZ) in minimizing the impact of non-point source pollution from silvicultural operations is recognized by the forestry Best Management Practices of most states. However, research concerning the SMZ width and harvesting intensity required to maintain water quality and biotic communities is limited. The goal of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of different SMZ widths and forest harvesting intensities within SMZs, in maintaining the water quality and biotic communities of 22 headwater streams located in the mountains of East-central West Virginia. Streams were organized in four blocks and randomly assigned one of six silvicultural treatments involving variation of SMZ width and harvesting intensity within the SMZ; 30.5 m SMZ with no residual harvest, 30.5 m SMZ with 50% residual harvest, 15.3 m SMZ with no residual harvest, 15.3 m SMZ with a 50% residual harvest, 4.5 m SMZ and control (no harvest within the watershed). Stream water chemistry parameters (in particular, NO3, NH4, Ca, Mg, conductivity and total dissolved solids) as well as aquatic macroinvertebrate communities were monitored from June 2003 through March 2005. Average nitrate concentration in streams harvested with a 4.5 m SMZ was more than 4 times as high as that of control streams. Average summer and fall stream temperatures were inversely related to SMZ width. Mean values for a number of macroinvertebrate community metrics were indicative of poorer water quality in streams harvested with a 4.5 m SMZ. During this short-term study SMZs of at least 15.3 m appeared to be sufficient to maintain water quality. However, harvesting was restricted to one side of the stream and logging induced stream disturbances were observed even with SMZs of 30.5 m. For these reasons SMZs of at least 30.5 m are recommended as a cautionary measure to minimize the potential for impacts to biotic communities. In addition, residual harvest of up to 50% of the basal area within the SMZ did not appear to impact water quality during the temporal scope of the study.
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