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Suitability of Soil Erosion Models for the Evaluation of Bladed Skid Trail BMPs in the Southern Appalachians
Vinson, Joseph Andrew
Barrett, Scott M.
Aust, W. Michael
Bolding, M. Chad
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This project measured soil erosion rates from bladed skid trails in the mountains of Virginia following a timber harvest, and compared measured erosion to four erosion model predictions produced by Universal Soil Loss Equation—Forest (USLE-Forest), Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, v.2 (RUSLE2), Water Erosion Prediction Project—Road (WEPP-Road) using default files, and WEPP-Road using modified files in order to assess the utility of the models for these conditions. Skid trails were segregated into six blocks where each block had similar trail slopes and soils. Each block contained four skid trail closure treatments: (1) bare soil (Control); (2) residual limbs and tops (Slash); (3) grass seed (Seed); and (4) fertilizer, seed, and straw mulch (Mulch). All treatments had waterbars, the minimum trail closure best management practice (BMP), to provide upslope and downslope borders of experimental units. Site cover characteristics on each experimental unit were collected quarterly as input parameters for erosion models. The suitability of soil erosion models were evaluated based upon statistical summaries, linear relationships with measured erosion rates, Nash-Sutcliffe Model Efficiency, and a nonparametric analysis. Treatments were measured to have erosion rates of 15.2 tonnes ha−1 year−1 (Control), 5.9 tonnes ha−1 year−1 (Seed), 1.1 tonnes ha−1 year−1 (Mulch), and 0.8 tonnes ha−1 year−1 (Slash). It was determined that WEPP-Road: Modified (p-value = 0.643) and USLE-Forest (p-value = 0.307) were the most suitable models given their accuracy; however USLE-Forest may be better for making management decisions given its practicality.