It is important to control erosion in forests
Best Management Practices During a Timber Harvest

Using fuel and other chemicals during a timber harvest

This web article explains how loggers, foresters, and landowners can store and use potentially hazardous chemicals in the forest while minimizing the chance of contamination.

Landowners and loggers bring a variety of hazardous materials into forests during timber harvesting:

    • Fuel - Diesel fuel and gasoline to operate skidders, forwarders, chainsaws, and other power machinery.
    • Herbicides - Used to reduce undesirable species of trees and brush.
    • Lubricants - Hydraulic fluids, grease, and oil to maintain equipment.
    • Fertilizers - Used to improve growth of newly seeded areas.
    • Pesticides - Occasionally used to control forest insects, slugs, and fungus problems.

If any of these materials are mishandled or spilled, they can be washed directly into streams or contaminate forest soil. When fuels and lubricants spill in a forest, they do not disappear. Rather, they spread out through the root zone, harming trees and wildlife. Spills of hazardous materials can carry severe environmental fines and possible imprisonment.


Hazardous materials best management practices

Store and transfer fuels where they will not contact forest soil.
Use protective materials, such as matting or basins, to catch spills and leaks from fuel containers. Designate one refueling area and keep the protective materials available, rather than scatted throughout the work site. When refueling a chainsaw, it is better to use the bed of a truck or even a stump than to have the fuel spill onto the ground.

Limit the use of chemicals in woodland settings.
Use less hazardous alternatives when possible. Recent research in New York is showing how goats can control undesirable woody plants while providing livestock income. On days when the forest soil is unsuitable for logging, check machinery for leaks.

Use fuels and other chemicals only as the label directs.
Federal law prohibits using a material to kill vegetation or pests unless it is specifically labeled for that use. For example, although gasoline will surely kill interfering vegetation, it is illegal to use it in that way.

Restricted use pesticides can only be applied by certified applicators.
These personnel have received training to chose and apply chemicals properly, avoiding drift and runoff that pollutes wetlands and streams. Landowners are partly responsible for ensuring logging activities do not cause environmental harm to streams and lake waters.

Keep a chemical spill kit on site.
A portable spill kit should include absorbent material, clamps and plugs for leaks, a sturdy catch basin for leaks, digging tools, and tarps to protect soil during repair jobs.

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Please cite source: Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2004
Written by James Ochterski, CCE - Schuyler County