Disturbances created by timber harvesting equipment and associated haul roads and skid trails can create overland sediment flows (sediment paths), especially in steeply sloping terrain, leading to stream sedimentation. This study investigated the effect of variables associated with GPS tracked harvest equipment movement, skid trail development and retirement, topography, and streamside management zone (SMZ) width and tree retention on sediment delivery to streams. While the intensity of harvest equipment traffic was not correlated with sediment path development, the presence and location of skid trails were. All of the sediment paths were found to originate at water control structures, influenced by microtopographic features, on the skid trails directly adjacent to SMZs. Mesic slopes were associated with increased sediment path development across all SMZ configurations. Two factors, the accumulation of coarse logging debris in the SMZ and the increased distance of skid trails to streams, were both correlated with decreased sediment path development. The study provides insight into how these variables interact and can be used to develop site-specific guidelines for SMZs in steeply sloping terrain that could improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

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Published in Forests, v. 11, no. 6, 623, p. 1-12.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Funding for this project was provided by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s SB 271 Water Quality Program. The work was also supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, McIntire-Stennis Research Program (Accession Number 1005547).