Long-Term Effects of Forestry Best Management Practices on Hydrology and Water Chemistry in Three Appalachian Headwater Catchments

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Theses and Dissertations- Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering


In 1982, a study was initiated in the Field Branch watershed, in the University of Kentucky’s Robinson Forest, to evaluate forestry best management practice (BMP) effectiveness after intensive harvesting. The study utilized a paired watershed approach on three adjacent Field Branch subcatchments. One subcatchment was left as the control, one had BMPs implemented (including a 50-ft undisturbed buffer along the stream), and one was clear-cut to the stream’s banks without the use of BMPs (i.e. logger’s choice). Prior research has shown that logging can negatively impact watershed functions by altering stream hydrology, geomorphology, water quality, and instream habitat. Thus, the goal of forestry BMPs is to mitigate these impacts; however, information on their effectiveness, especially on the long-term, is limited. Monitoring of three streams, one in each subcatchment, has continued since 1982. In 1985, two years after harvest, results indicated a significant increase in stormflow, baseflow, storm volume as a percentage of rainfall, and curve number in the BMP implemented subcatchment. Conversely, in the clear-cut subcatchment these same parameters were significantly increased in 1984, 1985, 2006, and 2007. Water quality results were mixed and forestry BMPs seemingly added little to no benefit over the clear-cut subcatchment for most monitored constituents.



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