Factors influencing sediment plume development from forest roads
Southern forests, which rely on intensive management practices, are some of the most productive forests in the United States. Intensive forest management utilizes forest operations, such as site preparation, fertilization, thinning, and harvesting, to increase site productivity and reduce rotation time. These forest operations are essential to meet the ever-increasing demands for timber products. Forest operations are tools used by forest managers in an attempt to manage the nation's forestlands for multiple uses while maintaining or improving resource quality. Forest operations, a man-induced modification to ecosystems, have the potential for impacts on ecological processes and future conditions. Forest operations can influence nonpoint source pollution (NPS) by upsetting natural processes that maintain water quality. In recent years, NPS has been identified as the nation’s largest source of water quality problems. Forest management activities have been identified as activities influencing NPS pollution in the South. Results of studies in the 13 southern states investigating the effect of forest operations on water quality are highly variable based on this review. However, the results taken collectively indicate that forest operations have little impact on the quality of water draining from forests in the south. Based on this review, BMPs show the potential to protect water quality following forest operations; however accurate assessments of the overall effectiveness of BMPs are not possible because the benefits of BMPs on different scales are relatively unknown.