Alternative skid trail retirement options for steep terrain logging
In winter 1999-2000 trials of deep tillage and recontouring of skid trails were implemented on three sites in northeastern Kentucky, USA to examine their potential as skid trail retirement options. While effective, current Best Management Practices (BMPs) for trail retirement do not address two potential benefits of retirement: recovery of normal hill slope hydrology and amelioration of soil compaction. Subsoiling and recontouring both significantly reduced soil compaction compared to the control. Preliminary data from runoff sampling indicated none of the treatments were similar to the undisturbed hillside, but recontoured treatments had surface runoff 77% of the control and sediment yield 41% of the control. Subsoil treatments results for sediment yield and runoff volume were between the control and recontour treatments. Production levels from research application of deep tillage showed that the cost could be competitive with conventional BMPs. The recontouring treatment was three to five times the cost of conventional BMPs. General application of deep tillage and site-specific application of recontouring may be cost neutral or reduce net cost of BMPs if treatments increase tree growth or significantly improve water quality.