Erosion control during adverse weather
This web article explains
how loggers, foresters, and landowners can work around and avoid
the weather conditions that would encourage soil erosion during
a timber harvest.
protection of forests and streams during timber harvesting
is weather dependent. There are several weather conditions
that tend to cause the greatest amount of soil erosion around
a logging job:
rain - A steady rain, lasting a whole day or several
days, can begin erosion in a timber harvest area. Rainfall
of one inch in one day will saturate many forest soils.
Additional rain will suspend sediments, particularly where
the soil is compacted, or has been stripped of vegetation.
Sediment from impervious roadways washes into and pollutes
- Thunderstorms in New York are capable of drenching an
area with more than 3 inches of water in a few minutes.
These can occur several times in a season and can be expected
every five years or so.
- Normally frozen soil softens at the surface, often accompanied
by rain. These conditions combine to create a lot of surface
flow. Soil particles are washed off timber harvesting areas,
especially where equipment has tracked through dry washes
and small streams.
- With warm days, cold nights, and intermittent rain and
melting snow, logging areas are usually reduced to muddy
networks of erosion-prone trails.
- Anytime the soil is damp or soft, it is unsuitable for
heavy equipment. On some days, a forest can have winter
conditions in the morning, and spring conditions by mid-day.
If a landowner and
logging crew have agreed to maintain best management practices
described here, erosion during adverse weather will always be
practices during adverse weather
and anticipate changes in weather conditions.
and landowners should monitor weather conditions closely before,
during, and after the harvest. A period of dry weather will set
the stage for reduced erosion. If consistent or intense rain is
predicted, plan to shut down timbering work on poorly drained
or sloping sites. Erosion control due to weather changes can be
made a provision of the timber harvest contract.
to run its course.
Do not pile excess soil in the path of water running off during
a thaw. Frequently, this water is not running in its normal channel
because the soil is too frozen to allow infiltration. A bulldozed
dam will almost certainly fail to have its planned effect, as
the water will wash under or around the pile.
Do not drive over
soils that are saturated.
Shut down log
skidding and hauling when the soil is saturated and unable to
support the equipment. In a good logging job, skidders and bulldozers
should be supported by soil, not slogging through it. Logging
crews throughout New York lose thousands of hours of work time
trying to pull out stuck equipment and repairing deep ruts. In
some cases, logging crews have been barred from future work in
forests due to poor judgment regarding forest road conditions.
A few deep ruts in a forest are usually enough to cloud a forest
owner's impression of the quality of a logging crew.
operations in soggy weather.
Focus efforts on felling, rather than skidding or forwarding.
Perform routine maintenance, sharpen or replace worn parts, and
obtain materials for other logging jobs, such as matting, culverts,
and timbers. This is often a good time to meet with the forester
or landowner overseeing the job. Work on the habit of communicating
regularly with each other. It is easier for timber industry personnel
to develop a positive relationship when communicating and teaching
landowners about their forests. If appropriate, invite community
leaders to the logging site, especially if they are contemplating
restrictions or regulations on logging in that area. Consider
spring conditions as a well-earned opportunity for a few days
Clearly mark sensitive
areas before snow covers the site.
Identify stream crossings and culvert locations with bright flagging
on poles or adjacent trees. It does not take much snow to obscure
the location of water control devices you already placed in the
Make sure normal
water courses are maintained.
Water, especially in large volumes, will always find its own course
through a timber harvest site. Make sure stream crossings, diversions,
and other water control features are clear, especially after winter